Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin, like McCain, keeps lobbyists close at hand

Much has been made about John McCain not accepting money from lobbyists, but allowing them to run his campaign. It appears the same has held true for his vice presidential nominee, except that she not only keeps lobbyists close at hand, but accepted campaign contributions from them, as well.

A May 7 post on the Anchorage Daily News political blog notes that Gov. Palin's new legislative director, Kelly Goode, has been dating Juneau lobbyist Kim Hutchinson for years:

"My loyalty is always with my boss and I joined the governor's team with a complete and clear understanding that her priorities are my priorities. Nothing is going to change that," Goode said.

Goode said she and Hutchinson do not share residences. "We have no joint financial anything," Goode said. "We date, but everything financial or anything like that is all separate. I pay for myself...I try to go above and beyond and make sure things are very separate."

While there is no reason not to take Ms. Goode at her word, she is not the only one who has a connection with Hutchinson. Alaska Public Offices Commission documents indicate Sarah Palin received $1,800 in campaign contributions from Hutchinson during her gubernatorial campaign. Hutchinson made three contributions of $500 and one of $300, according to the records.

Hutchinson's clients, according to Commission records, include Alaska Airlines, ACS Media, Alaska Communications Systems, American Insurance Association, and Corrections Corporation of America.

Hutchinson was not the only lobbyist to put money into the Palin campaign, according to an article just posted on the Washington Times website:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose independence was touted when she was named Sen. John McCain´s vice-presidential pick Friday, collected at least $24,000 from registered state lobbyists in her gubernatorial campaign, records show.

The lobbyists who donated to her campaign represent a range of industries, including oil and gas, tobacco, education and the Native Alaskan community.

"She's fought oil companies and party bosses and do-nothing bureaucrats and anyone who puts their interests before the interests of the people she swore an oath to serve," Mr. McCain said Friday at an Ohio rally to introduce her as his running mate.

But since Mrs. Palin leads a major oil-producing state, that industry is one of her top donors.

She collected nearly $13,000 from lobbyists who represent oil and gas industries in her primary and general campaigns, according a review of her campaign donations and 2006 registered state lobbyists.

Her campaign also collected donations from lobbyist employees of most of the major oil companies, including BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Exxon Mobil Corp., Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chevron USA Inc., ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. and Shell Oil Co.

Troubled Branson company has given $10,000 to both attorney general candidates

A Branson company that had to pay a large fine for bilking customers, thanks to Attorney General Jay Nixon, appears to be attempting to inoculate itself against problems with his successor.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents show Vacation Travel Services gave $10,000 to Republican candidate Michael Gibbons Friday, and funneled the same amount to Democratic candidate Chris Koster through the laundering service provided by the Economic Growth Council, which sent the money to district committees, which then sent it to Koster in those days before campaign contribution limits were removed.

The company's troubled history was noted in the Aug. 2 Turner Report:

Vacation Services of America was required to pay $10,391 in restitution following an action taken by Jay Nixon four years ago.

According to the Aug. 25, 2004, Kansas City Star, the company and others were described by Nixon as "allegedly unscrupulous vacation and travel companies."

The article said the companies "made false promises that people would save money, used tough pressure tactics to sell travel packages, claiming high upfront fees and then failed to provide services, and refused to let customers cancel orders."

Gibbons receives first Blunt contribution of no-limit era

Republican attorney general candidate Michael Gibbons received the first contribution from Missourians for Matt Blunt during the no-limit era, according to a document filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The Blunt committee gave Gibbons $10,000 of the $48,000 in $5,000-plus contributions reported. Others giving to Gibbons included:

L. D. Eckelkamp, Bank of Washington, $5,000; Menlo Smith, Sunmark Capital, $7,500; Rudy Farber, Neosho, $10,000; Hunter Engineering, Bridgeton, $10,000; Vacation Services of America, Branson, $5,000.

At the moment, Gibbons' opponent, Democrat Chris Koster, has not reported any $5,000-plus contributions.

Romney, Huckabee show support for McCain

It won't receive as much publicity as Hillary and Bill Clinton's support for Barack Obama, but the Republican party also has unified behind John McCain as its presidential candidate.

As evidence of that, McCain's top challengers for the nomination this year, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appeared with McCain and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin at O'Fallon today:

"I'm proud to share th stage with two great governors and two great competitors," McCain said.

He then spoke about the need to keep the people of the Gulf Coast in their thoughts, trying to erase the memory many have of the Bush administration's response to Katrina three years ago.

"This natural emergency is the first concern of all Americans," McCain said. "I'm encouraged by the level of preparedness."

Earlier today, McCain toured a hurricane response center in Pearl, Mississippi, an area that was devastated by Katrina.

Palin also spoke about the government's reaction to Katrina, saying that the suffering there was a "harsh reminder" of what happens when the government fails to fulfill its obligations.

"They need to know that government at every level is ready for the worst," she said about the residents in Hurricane Gustav's path. "A crisis on this scale can bring out the best of our country."

Blunt outlines plans to assist with Hurricane Gustav response

Gov. Matt Blunt's office issued the following news release today concerning efforts to help with the response to Hurricane Gustav:

Gov. Matt Blunt today visited the St. Louis Rec. Center, a potential shelter for Hurricane Gustav evacuees and announced he is mobilizing an additional 120 Missouri National Guard Citizen-Soldiers to support Hurricane Gustav recovery efforts in Louisiana, bringing the total number of mobilized Missouri Guard members to more than 600. Hurricane Gustav is predicted to make landfall near New Orleans tomorrow as a Category 4.
"Missourians know firsthand the destructive forces of Mother Nature. As our neighbors to the South prepare for Hurricane Gustav, Missouri is doing its part to assist in those efforts to help the people of Louisiana," Gov. Blunt said. "Today I am announcing that we are sending an additional 120 Missouri National Guardsmen and women to Louisiana to support the response to Hurricane Gustav."

Fifty Citizen-Soldiers from the 1221st Transportation Company, located in Dexter, Portageville and Sikeston and 70 Citizen-Soldiers from Company A, 311th Brigade Support Battalion, located in Nevada and Lamar are heading to Louisiana tomorrow to support operations there.

"As the citizens of Louisiana face this awful storm, we proudly stand beside them," said Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, adjutant general for the Missouri National Guard. "Your Missouri National Guard members are experienced and eager to help."

These Soldiers will join the more than 500 Missouri National Guard members already enroute to Louisiana, including a task force of military police from across the state, led by the 205th Military Police Battalion, Poplar Bluff; an aviation maintenance team from Springfield; and the 7th Civil Support Team, located at Fort Leonard Wood.

The Missouri National Guard Citizen-Soldiers are being mobilized under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, an interstate mutual aid agreement. They will remain on duty until released by the governor of Louisiana.

Missouri is also prepared to receive evacuees if needed at shelters in St. Joseph, Cape Girardeau, Kansas City, Jefferson City, Columbia, Hannibal and Springfield.

There are approximately 11,500 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen in the Missouri National Guard, with nearly 1,500 currently mobilized in support of the Global War on Terrorism

Nixon adds another quarter of a million

The new Wild West era in Missouri politics continued today as Attorney General Jay Nixon added at least $241,000 to his campaign account. It could be more since candidates are only required to report contributions over $5,000 within two days, and can wait to list lesser contributions until the regular disclosure report is filed.

The top donor today for Nixon was the law firm of Gray Ritter & Graham, St. Louis, with $100,000.

Other contributors included:

Hawthorne Site Management, St. Louis, $13,000; Jeffrey Fort, lawyer, Las Vegas, $25,000; Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, $7,500; Dollar Burns & Becker, Kansas City, $5,000; Dr. Harry Maue, chairman and CEO, Stuart Maue Ltd., $10,000; Robert Blitz, attorney, Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch, $25,000; David Johnson, Maxus Properties, owner, $10,000; James B. Nutter, owner James B. Nutter & Co., $25,000.

In the past two days, the Nixon campaign has reported $362,000 plus in contributions over $5,000, including $75,000 from the Hershewe Law Firm in Joplin.

Good news for McCain: Bush, Cheney to skip convention

When the Republican National Convention takes place this week in the Twin Cities, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will be no-shows. The two will be responding to whatever events occur as a result of Hurricane Gustav:

Bush will apparently address the convention by satellite and First Lady Laura Bush will address delegates at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, the first day of the four-day event, according to The Associated Press

Hulshof ad attacks Nixon's "misleading" campaign

This ad from the Kenny Hulshof campaign attacks his opponent, Jay Nixon, for misleading Missourians:

Page video talks about his work during Hurricane Katrina

In the latest video released by Democratic lieutenant governor Dr. Sam Page, emergency room physician Dr. Gale Osgood talks about the work done by Dr. Page to help during Hurricane Katrina:

KODE: Evacuees headed toward Missouri

Some evacuees leaving the Gulf area to escape from Hurricane Gustav will wind up in Missouri, according to a KODE report and some could be headed toward this corner of the state:

Authorities tell KODE tonight that Missouri and Louisiana are working on an agreement that could bring up to five thousand evacuees to the Show Me State. Six hundred of the storm victims could be taken to a Springfield shelter. Officials say Carthage, Joplin and Neosho could take an additional four hundred evacuees if the other shelters become crowded.

McCain, Palen in Missouri today

Presidential nominee John McCain and his vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will be at O'Fallon today in their last stop prior to the opening of the Republican National Convention Monday:

The event will start at 4 p.m. and doors will open at 2 p.m., with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Besides McCain and Palin, rally speakers will include two of McCain's former rivals for the nomination — former Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. John Rich, of the country music duo Big and Rich, will perform

Missouri National Guard sent to help Louisiana with Gustav

Gov. Matt Blunt activated the Missouri National Guard Saturday to help Louisiana with Hurricane Gustav:

Blunt says Missouri is sending 500 citizen-soldiers, a 20-member group from the 7th Civil Support Team and a 12-member aviation maintenance team. Members were assembling Saturday and could leave as early as this morning.

Joplin GOP Convention delegates featured in News-Leader

Chad Livengood's pre-convention article in today's Springfield News-Leader includes quotes from two Joplin delegates, Rep. Ron Richard and accountant Nick Myers:

Both men expressed pleasure at the choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain's vice presidential candidate.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Casino interests change committee name

The Yes for Schools First Committee is a thing of the past.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents filed Aug. 21 show the committee pushing for the removal of loss limits and the elimination of competition for casinos has changed its name to Yes on A Coalition.

The committee is pushing the passage of Proposition A, the so-called Schools First Initiative in November.

Though the casino interests are trying to sell Missourians on this proposition by linking it with schools, I described the effort this way in the May 3 Turner Report:

One of the biggest fictions that continues to be foisted upon the public is the idea that gambling money can solve all of the problems with school funding.

According to the advertising when Missourians approved a state lottery, that money was going to save the schools. Of course, the money was never designated for the schools, but was placed in general revenue. If the money had been targeted to schools, undoubtedly legislators would have cut the amount going into education from general revenue.

Every few years, those who want to increase gambling in this state, use education as a way to overcome resistance to the idea...and it is happening again.

The gambling interests never use names like "More Gambling in Missouri" or "A Sucker Born Every Minute" for their "grass roots" groups. The latest one, registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Dec. 21, 2007, is the Yes for Schools First Coalition.

The Coalition, which has been operating under the radar since that time (except for Arch City Chronicle and some in the blogosphere) appears to have landed enough signatures to allow Missourians to vote on removing loss limits from casinos, purportedly to pour those extra dollars into education.

Since this is a coalition designed to bring funding to education, you might expect to see those with a stake in education- parents, teachers, administrators, education interest groups lining up to back this initiative.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents paint a different picture.

The coalition's most recent disclosure report, filed April 15, shows $1,427,700 in contributions. Not one cent came from anyone associated with education. In fact, the funding came from only two sources- $835,700 from Ameristar Casinos and $592,00 from Pinnacle Entertainment.

This was the news release issued by the coalition Friday:

The YES for Schools First Coalition today submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State more than 160,000 voter signatures on petitions for the Schools First Initiative – far more than the approximately 92,000 signatures required to place the initiative on the November 2008 statewide ballot.

“We’re pleased that Missouri voters have shown strong support for our measure,” said the group’s spokesperson, Anne Marie Moy. “The Schools First Initiative provides vitally needed new funds to Missouri schools by increasing the state taxes paid by casinos. It prohibits the legislature from using the casino taxes dedicated to education for any other purpose. It also protects thousands of local jobs and our state economy, by ensuring that Missouri casinos can compete for visitors on an equal basis with casinos in neighboring states.”

The Schools First Initiative will provide more than $100 million per year in new funds for elementary and secondary schools statewide by increasing the state tax paid by riverboat casinos to 21% and by eliminating Missouri’s $500 loss limit. The measure requires annual audits by the State Auditor to ensure that all casino tax revenues dedicated to education are used only for school funding and are not used to replace or supplant other education funds.

By eliminating Missouri’s outdated loss limit, which no other state imposes, the initiative will ensure that Missouri can compete for casino visitors on a level playing field. The initiative also prevents oversaturation of the in-state casino market by limiting the number of Missouri casinos to those already built or under construction.

The Schools First Initiative is supported by the YES for Schools First Coalition, which includes Missouri teachers and parents, and community and business leaders. The initiative also is endorsed by the Missouri Gaming Association, the organization which represents all casino companies operating in Missouri.

Reading the news release reminded me of the infamous Lamar con artist James R. Montgomery, who attempted to run a canned food drive, allegedly to benefit the needy, and advertised that he would have a particular church and the Boy Scouts helping him. The Lamar Police Department checked and found the school had nothing to do with the drive and neither did the Scouts. When I questioned him about the drive, he said it was all a misunderstanding. He never said the church was involved with the drive, just some church members, and he had never mentioned the Boy Scouts participating, just some members of the Boy Scouts. The canned food drive was canceled.

In this case, the coalition claims to consist of Missouri teachers and parents, but the coalition's website does not contain any evidence of that.

From its name, the Schools First initiative sounds like an answer to all of our problems of education funding, but when you pull the curtain aside, this is a welfare proposal for the gambling industry.

TAMKO owners shovel $300,000 into Kinder campaign

Apparently, free speech is for those who can afford it.

Those like columnist George Will who oppose campaign contribution limits claim they are a violation of the First Amendment because they limit free speech.

The Humphreys family of Joplin, which owns TAMKO, exercised its free speech to the tune of $300,000 given to the re-election campaign of Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. David Humphreys and EthelMae Humphreys of Joplin and Sarah Humphreys Atkins, Arlington, Va., each chipped in with $100,000.

The $300,000 was nearly three-quarters of the $407,400 Kinder reported in a filing tonight with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Others contributing to Kinder were:

Stone Leyton and Gershman, St. Louis $10,000; William Holekamp, Holekamp Capital, St. Louis, $25,000; Jerry Hall, Jack Henry & Associates, Monett, $20,000; L. B. Eckelcamp, $12,400; Menlo Smith, Sunmark Capital Corporation, $10,000; White Oaks Real Estate, $10,000; James McDonnell III, St. Louis, $10,000; Evergreen Investments, Lebanon, $10,000

Medical interests funnel big bucks to Page

The medical community poured big bucks into Dr. Sam Page's campaign for lieutenant governor Friday and today, according to documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Page reported $105,000 in contributions, including $75,000 from various anesthesiologists and organizations representing anesthesiologists. Out of that total, $30,000 came from the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists and $20,000 from Western Anesthesiology Association in Ballwin.

Democrat ad aimed at Hulshof shows McCain ripping into pork barrel politics

The Missouri Democratic Party is using Republican presidential nominee John McCain in an attack ad against gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof.

Echoing the strategy used by Sarah Steelman in the primaries, the Democrats plan to hang Washington around Hulshof's neck, especially the earmarks Hulshof has voted for during his time in Congress. This ad features a speech given by John McCain ripping into earmarks and pork barrel legislation:

Only Globe has mentioned big contributions to Hulshof, Nixon campaigns

The new Missouri law that is likely to have the greatest effect on the state is the one which repealed campaign contribution limits. The gloves came off Thursday, and to this point only one traditional media outlet, The Joplin Globe, has even posted an article about the first $5,000-plus contributions to the gubernatorial campaigns of Kenny Hulshof and Jay Nixon.

Kenny Hulshof raised an incredible $1.1 million on Thursday, the first day of unlimited contributions, and that's just the ones we know about. The new law only requires the contributions to be posted within 48 hours if they are above $5,000. Anything that less than that will have to wait until the next regularly scheduled disclosure report.

Those who supported Charlie Shields' bill to repeal the limits said it was vital to do so in order to bring "transparency" to campaign financing. This would stop the funneling of money through district committees, they said. By the time the final bill was on its way to Gov. Matt Blunt to sign, there was nothing to stop those who do not want people to know the source of their money to keep running in through the committee laundering system.

And it is highly unlikely that any continued spotlight will be focused on the reports that are filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. The Joplin Globe's story has been the only one and that is because it happened to fall on the time schedule for the Globe's Sunday weekly column on money in politics.

So far, nothing from any of the other major newspapers, though I will grant you that this is happening at a bad time, between the Democratic and Republican national conventions, with the Hulshof filing occurring the same day John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate.

The records are available, but most voters do not have the time nor the inclination to sift through what is available on the Ethics Commission website, which is not the most user-friendly anyway. If you want to discover what politicians are receiving oversized contributions you have to call up the documents of each politician. Unlike many governmental websites, there are no search features for document filed within the past day or the past week or any other time period.

As for the traditional media, it is my hope, though I am not naive enough to expect it, that they will concentrate not only on the fundraising horse race aspects of campaign financing, but also just where the money originates and what that could mean to taxpayers. The traditional media also has a bad habit of employing hit-and-run stories on money in politics, similar to the Globe's weekly column, and not treating it as an important beat with continuous updates.

The fallout of this new law is a major story in the 2008 elections and beyond. In his Globe column, reporter Joe Hadsall notes that Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved campaign contribution limits in the 1990s. Their wishes were overruled by greedy, self-serving politicians. That is the only transparency in this sad story.

Joplin law firm kicks in $75,000 for Nixon

In his first report of $5,000-plus contributions since the limits were removed Thursday, Attorney General Jay Nixon reported receiving $121,250, including $75,000 from the Hershewe Law Firm in Joplin.

The contributions, all received on the first day, included:

Centene Management, St. Louis, $13,000; Health Care Professionals for Change, St. Louis, $13,000; Stone Leyton & Gershman, Clayton, $13,500; Charter Communications, St. Louis, $6,750

Friday, August 29, 2008

Collection agency files suit against state representative

A Colorado collection agency filed a lawsuit against Rep. Barney Fisher, R-Richards, Friday in Vernon County Circuit Court. records indicate this is not the first civil suit filed against Fisher, nor is it the first filed by CACV of Colorado, LLC, a collection agency. The company also sued Fisher on June 24, 2005, but the case was dismissed without prejudice.

Three other civil suits have been filed against Fisher, who will face Democrat Carla Keough in November. Cavalry Portfolio Services won a $6,134.60 judgment against the representative in 2004, while a judgment of $14,273.35 was entered against Fisher in June 2007.

Court records do not indicate Fisher has paid a cent in either case.

Another lawsuit, filed by Worldwide Asset Purchasing LLC, in 2005 was dismissed without prejudice.

Fisher was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2004.

Hulshof reports more than $1.1 million on first day without campaign contribution limits

Special interests came through in a big way for Congressman Kenny Hulshof Thursday, the day that a new state law tossed out campaign contribution limits.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate picked up $1,185,000 with more than half of the total, $600,000, coming from the Republican Governors Association.

Southwest Missouri interests were front and center for Hulshof, led by Jerry Hall of Jack Henry & Associates, Monett, who kicked in $100,000. Hulshof also picked up $25,000 from Neosho banker Rudy Farber, whose big bucks for Republican causes led Gov. Matt Blunt to appoint him to the Transportation Commission, $13,300 from the Newton County Republican Central Committee, and $20,000 from Jerry Wells, Carthage, of Moark.

Other first-day contributors were:

Schnucks, $25,000, Metro Heart Group of St. Louis, $10,000; Southern Union Company, Houston, Texas, $7,375; Howard Wood, Bonne Terre, Cequel III, $100,000; L. B. Eckelcamp, Bank of Washington, $20,000; Lewis and Clark Regional Leadership Fund, St. Charles, $50,000; Samuel Hais, St. Louis (Blunt appointment to Missouri Gaming Commission), $20,000; Stephen Notestine, St. Louis, $10,000; William McGinnis, Nestle Purina Pet Care, St. Louis, $10,000; James McDonnell, St. Louis, retired, $20,000; James Ross, RCS Inc., $10,000; Boone County Republican Central Committee, $13,200; 24th Legislative District, Columbia, $13,450; 24th Senatorial District Committee, Maryland Heights, $13,181 (in-kind); AG Processing, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska, $10,000; Drury Development Corporation, $20,000; Bill Holekamp, Holekamp Construction, $50,000

At this point, no contributions of $5,000 or more have been reported by Hulshof's opponent, Attorney General Jay Nixon.

Syndicated columnist Hentoff nailed Palin pick three months ago

One of my favorite non-reporting tasks when I was editor at The Carthage Press was selecting which syndicated columnists to use on our editorial page.

I always liked Florida-based columnist Charley Reese, the fair and even-handed AP political columnist Walter Mears, the well-researched Mort Kondracke columns, and the thought-providing religion columns of George Plagenz, but perhaps my favorite columnist was First Amendment specialist Nat Hentoff.

Hentoff is still turning out excellent columns, and was one of the few to sound the call for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain's vice presidential candidate:

Because of Palin's reputation as a maverick, and her initial reduction of state spending (including pork-barrel spending), life-affirming Palin connects with voters and has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for John McCain.

She would be a decided asset — an independent Republican governor, a woman, a defender of life against the creeping culture of death and a fresh face in national politics, described in "the Almanac of National Politics" as "an avid hunter and fisher with a killer smile who wears designer glasses and heels, and hair like modern sculpture."

Still unknown is whether Palin would be as flip-flopping as McCain on the Bush torture policy that has so blighted our reputation in the world. But we'd find out, as — if chosen as his running mate — she would create more interest in this already largely scripted presidential campaign.

And her presence could highlight Obama's extremist abortion views on whether certain lives are worth living, even a child born after a botched abortion.

Palin nomination shows the narrow-mindedness of radical left feminists

Those who espouse right-wing conservative views are constantly criticized by those on the left as being narrow-minded when it comes to social issues.

When it comes to the issue of abortion, the left's tunnel vision has been such that it simply cannot tolerate any view other than any abortion is a good abortion.

So naturally, when John McCain chose an anti-abortion female, Alaksa Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate, the orthodox left wing chorus started saying that she will not pry female votes from Barack Obama. Because Sarah Palin has the "wrong" stance on abortion, she will not tear any of those 18 million Hillary Clinton glass ceiling voters away from the Democratic Party.

How arrogant and what an insult to women.

To say that "real" women are all what is euphemistically called "pro-choice," is marginalizing millions of women, across the United States and not just those who are staunchly anti-abortion. It also shoves all of the women who support abortion, but who have serious reservations about late-term abortions, into the enemy camp.

It is the type of arrogant high-handedness that pushed many traditional Democratic party regulars, including numerous blue collar workers and those whose religions teach them that abortion is wrong, into the GOP camp.

Don't tell me that many women will not give Sarah Palin a second thought because she is firmly anti-abortion. My guess is there are some people who supported Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy who will find much to like about John McCain and Sarah Palin.

There are feminist issues which draw nearly universal agreement from women, such as "equal pay for equal work." Abortion is not an issue that can so easily be put into that category. Someone can truly be a feminist and be an object of pride for females without falling into line behind the all-abortion, all-the-time camp.

The issue of abortion is a difficult one in the United States. It has been distressing to see it become just about the only issue that matters when it comes to approving Supreme Court justices.

If it becomes the focus of the presidential race, we will all suffer because of other critical issues that are always shoved to the curb whenever abortion becomes the discussion topic.

If that happens in this historic 2008 election, we will end up being exposed to nothing but far right and far left bickering. If that happens, the American people will be the losers.

Blunt: Obama should campaign all over Missouri

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt is urging Barack Obama to campaign in southwest Missouri and all over the state, hoping that familiarity will breed contempt:

"The more attention that Obama personally pays to this state, the greater the odds that McCain wins the state," Blunt predicted this week. "The more Obama the better and the sooner the better."

Blunt said he's convinced Missourians will make Republican Sen. John McCain the country's 44th president in November after they start to realize that Obama carries a "hollow message" of peace, hope and prosperity.

GateHouse Media sells Nebraska newspapers

GateHouse Media sold two Nebraska daily newspapers, according to published reports:

The employee-owned Omaha World-Herald Co. has bought two small Nebraska papers, The Grand Island Independent and The York News-Times, from GateHouse Media Inc.

The deal gives the World-Herald 10 daily newspapers in Nebraska and Iowa, including the flagship Omaha World-Herald, and 23 nondaily papers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed when the deal was announced Thursday.

GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News and more than 300 U. S. publications.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Video of Obama acceptance speech

Obama speech was worth the wait

If anyone had any doubts about Barack Obama delivering the acceptance speech in a football stadium, tonight's performance should have put them to rest.

Obama not only delivered yet another in his ever-growing list of memorable speeches, but he tackled head on the McCain campaign's efforts to label him a celebrity and an elitist.

The speech clearly promoted Obama's vision, while forcing John McCain to avoid being labeled as an out of touch candidate who is attempting to continue the failed policies of the Bush administration.

I miss the less choreographed conventions of the past, but when it comes to oratory, any convention that offers Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and the underappreciated (until this week) Joe Biden, has provided entertainment galore for those who love politics.

Transcript provided for Obama acceptance speech

To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation; with profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest — a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours — Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next first lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia — I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story — of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart — that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for 232 years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women — students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments — a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for 20 years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and independents across this great land — enough! This moment — this election — is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Sen. McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives — on health care and education and the economy — Sen. McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this president. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisers — the man who wrote his economic plan — was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud autoworkers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don't believe that Sen. McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle class as someone making under 5 million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy — give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well, it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president — when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job — an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great — a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves — protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

That's the promise of America — the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president.

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital-gains taxes for the small businesses and the startups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes — cut taxes — for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Sen. McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies retool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early-childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. And we will keep our promise to every young American — if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses, and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime — by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less — because we cannot meet 21st century challenges with a 20th century bureaucracy.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility — that's the essence of America's promise.

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next commander in chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Sen. McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell — but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice — but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans — have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

But what I will not do is suggest that the senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a red America or a blue America – they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose — our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise — the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what — it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

For 18 long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us — that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it — because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit — that American promise — that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours — a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that 45 years ago today brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead — people of every creed and color, from every walk of life — is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise — that American promise — and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Video that introduced Obama tonight featured

Maybe this is why other speakers were softer on McCain

The pundits have been critical of earlier Democratic National Convention speakers for not tearing down John McCain.

Obama, while being respectful to McCain, the man, has blistered McCain, the Republican candidate for president. Perhaps the other speakers were laying low to give Obama, the nice guy of the primaries, the opportunity to deliver the telling blows.

Perhaps the best line came when Obama referred to McCain's campaign pledge to follow Osama bin Laden to "the gates of hell. John McCain won't even follow him to the cave where he is hiding."

Obama: We are a better country than this

"Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.
"It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.
"It is why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive.

"We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

"Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay and tuition that is beyond your reach.

"These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed presidency of George W. Bush.

"America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this."

Obama takes the gloves off, slaps down McCain policies

"I don't believe Senator McCain doesn't care what goes on in the lives of Americas. I just think he doesn't known," Barack Obama said.

It's not because John McCain doesn't care, it's because John McCain doesn't get it.

Obama is portraying McCain as a patriot and a fine man, but one who is out of touch with today's America, perhaps a not so subtle dig at McCain's seven-plus decades on this earth.

After those digs at McCain, Obama returned to the hope for America speech that has been the hallmark of his historic campaign.

Obama opens speech with series of thank-yous- what no John Edwards?

Barack Obama opened his acceptance speech at Invesco Stadium in Denver by thanking those who joined him in the Democratic primaries, but mentioned only two by name.

Obama started by thanking the candidate who stayed in the race the longest, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and concluded the opening portion of the speech by thanking his vice presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Perhaps all of them would have been mentioned, but that would have meant mentioning the only unspeakable name of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the philandering John Edwards, a man who only four years ago was standing alongside John Kerry as the vice presidential candidate and who this year is skulking around hotel rooms visiting his mistress (and quite possibly the mother of his child).

That meant giving short shrift to such people Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kuninich, and God help us, even Mike Gravel.

Transcript provided for Gore speech

One of the greatest gifts of our democracy is the opportunity it offers us every four years to change course.

It's not a guarantee; it's only an opportunity.

The question facing us, simply put, is will we seize this opportunity for change?

That's why I came here tonight: to tell you why I feel so strongly that we must seize this opportunity to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America.

Eight years ago, some said there was not much difference between the nominees of the two major parties and it didn't really matter who became president. Our nation was enjoying peace and prosperity, and some assumed we would continue both, no matter the outcome.

But here we all are in 2008, and I doubt anyone would argue now that election didn't matter.

Take it from me, if it had ended differently, we would not be bogged down in Iraq; we would have pursued bin Laden until we captured him.

We would not be facing a self-inflicted economic crisis; we would be fighting for middle income families.

We would not be showing contempt for the Constitution; we'd be protecting the rights of every American regardless of race, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.

And we would not be denying the climate crisis; we'd be solving it.

Today, we face essentially the same choice we faced in 2000, though it may be even more obvious now, because John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies all over again.

Hey, I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous.

With John McCain's support, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have led our nation into one calamity after another because of their indifference to fact; their readiness to sacrifice the long-term to the short-term, subordinate the general good to the benefit of the few and short-circuit the rule of law.

If you like the Bush/Cheney approach, John McCain's your man.

If you believe it's time for a change, then vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Barack Obama is telling us exactly what he will do: launch a bold new economic plan to restore America's greatness. Fight for smarter government that trusts the market but protects us against its excesses. Enact policies that are pro-choice, pro-education and pro-family. Establish a foreign policy that is smart as well as strong. Provide health care for all and solutions for the climate crisis.

So why is this election so close?

Well, I know something about close elections, so let me offer you my opinion.

I believe this election is close today mainly because the forces of the status quo are desperately afraid of the change Barack Obama represents.

There is no better example than the climate crisis. As I have said for many years throughout this land, we're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the future of human civilization. Every bit of that has to change.

Oil company profits, as you know, have soared to record levels, and gasoline prices have gone through the roof, and we are more dependent than ever on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels. Many scientists predict -- shockingly -- that the entire North Polar ice cap may be completely gone during summer months during the first term of the next president. Sea levels are rising; fires are raging; storms are stronger. Military experts warn us our national security is threatened by massive waves of climate refugees destabilizing countries around the world, and scientists tell us the very web of life is endangered by unprecedented extinctions.

We are facing a planetary emergency, which, if not solved, would exceed anything we've ever experienced in the history of humankind.

In spite of John McCain's past record of open-mindedness and leadership on the climate crisis, he has now apparently allowed his party to browbeat him into abandoning his support of mandatory caps on global warming pollution.

And it just so happens that the climate crisis is intertwined with the other two great challenges facing our nation: reviving our economy and strengthening our national security. The solutions to all three require us to end our dependence on carbon-based fuels.

Instead of letting lobbyists and polluters control our destiny, we need to invest in American innovation.

Almost a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison, our most famous inventor, said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!" he continued. "I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."

Well, now, in 2008, we already have everything we need to use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis -- everything, that is, except a president in the White House who inspires us to believe, "Yes, we can." But we know how to fix that.

So how did this no-brainer become a brain-twister?

Because the carbon fuels industry -- big oil and coal -- have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party, and they are drilling it for everything it's worth.

And this same industry has spent a half a billion dollars this year alone trying to convince the public they are actually solving the problem, when they are, in fact, making it worse every single day.

This administration and the special interests who control it lock, stock and barrel after barrel have performed this same sleight-of-hand on issue after issue. Some of the best marketers have the worst products, and this is certainly true of today's Republican Party.

The party itself has on its rolls men and women of great quality.

But the last eight years demonstrate that the special interests who have come to control the Republican Party are so powerful that serving them and serving the national well-being are now irreconcilable choices.

So what can we do about it?

We can carry Barack Obama's message of hope and change to every family in America. And pledge that we will be there for him, not only in the heat of this election but in the aftermath as we put his agenda to work for our country.

We can tell Republicans and independents, as well as Democrats, exactly why our nation so badly needs a change from the approach of Bush, Cheney and McCain.

After they wrecked our economy, it is time for a change.

After they abandoned the search for the terrorists who attacked us and redeployed the troops to invade a nation that did not attack us, it's time for a change.

After they abandoned the principle first laid down by Gen. George Washington, when he prohibited the torture of captives because it would bring, in his words, "shame, disgrace and ruin" to our nation, it's time for a change.

When as many as three Supreme Court justices could be appointed in the first term of the next president, and John McCain promises to appoint more Scalias and Thomases and end a woman's right to choose, it is time for a change.

Many people have been waiting for some sign that our country is ready for such change. How will we know when it's beginning to take hold?

I think we might recognize it as a sign of such change if we saw millions of young people getting involved for the first time in the political process.

This election is actually not close at all among younger voters; you are responding in unprecedented numbers to Barack Obama's message of change and hope.

You recognize that he represents a clean break from the politics of partisanship and bitter division.

You understand that the politics of the past are exhausted, and you're tired -- we're all tired -- of appeals based on fear.

You know that America is capable of better than what you have seen in recent years, and you are hungry for a new politics based on bipartisan respect for the ageless principles embodied in the United States Constitution.

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon awakening to the challenge of a present danger, shaking off complacency and rising, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of embracing change.

A century and a half ago, when America faced our greatest trial, the end of one era gave way to the birth of another.

The candidate who emerged victorious in that election is now regarded by most historians as our greatest president.

Before he entered the White House, Abraham Lincoln's experience in elective office consisted of eight years in his state legislature in Springfield, Illinois, and one term in Congress, during which he showed courage and wisdom to oppose the invasion of another country in a war that was popular when it started but later condemned by history.

The experience that Lincoln's supporters valued most in that race was his powerful ability to inspire hope in the future at a time of impasse.

He was known chiefly as a clear thinker and a great orator with a passion for justice and a determination to heal the deep divisions of our land.

He insisted on reaching past partisan and regional divides to exalt our common humanity.

In 2008, once again, we find ourselves at the end of an era with a mandate from history to launch another new beginning.

And once again, we have a candidate whose experience perfectly matches an extraordinary moment of transition.

Barack Obama had the experience and wisdom to oppose a popular war based on faulty premises.

His leadership experience has given him a unique capacity to inspire hope in the promise of the American dream of a boundless future.

His experience has also given him genuine respect for different views and humility in the face of complex realities that cannot be squeezed into the narrow compartments of ideology.

His experience has taught him something that career politicians often overlook: that inconvenient truths must be acknowledged if we are to have wise governance.

The extraordinary strength of his personal character -- and that of his wonderful wife, Michelle, who gave such a magnificent address and will be such a wonderful first lady for this country -- their strength of character is grounded in the strengths of the American community.

His vision and his voice represent the best of America.

His life experience embodies the essence of our motto -- e pluribus unum -- out of many, one.

That is the linking identity at the other end of all the hyphens that pervade our modern political culture. It is that common American identity -- which Barack Obama exemplifies, heart and soul -- that enables us as Americans to speak with moral authority to all of the peoples of the world to inspire hope that we as human beings can transcend our limitations to redeem the promise of human freedom.

Late this evening, our convention will end with a benediction.

As we bow in reverence, remember the words of the old proverb: "When you pray, move your feet."

And then let us leave here tonight and take the message of hope from Denver to every corner of our land and do everything we can to serve our nation, our world and our children and their future by electing Barack Obama president of the United States of America.

Gore video: A cure for insomnia

Another Livengood scoop: Nixon says he toppled Blunt and will do the same to Hulshof

The Springfield News-Leader's Chad Livengood is doing more than just phoning it in from the Democratic National Convention in Denver. While many of the local reporters are pushing stories they could have written by sitting at home in front of their television sets (like I am doing it), Livengood has been burning up the shoe leather.

Case in point, his blog post on Attorney General Jay Nixon's talk to a Missouri delegation breakfast today:

“I’m the only politician in Missouri — in America, I think, quite frankly — who’s had the opportunity already to retire a Republican governor, a Republican treasurer, who will be replaced by this fine young man, Clint Zweifel,” Nixon told Missouri Democrats this morning at the morning delegation breakfast.

After the delegation cheered and clapped, Nixon added: “And I just got one more, I get to retire a Republican George Bush, John McCain-voting congressman (Kenny Hulshof).”

Compare Livengood's coverage with that of Adam Jadhov on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Political Fix:

GateHouse Media stock drops five cents

GateHouse Media stock took a five-cent hit today, dropping to 64 cents per share. Trading was fairly steady today with a high of 69 cents and a low of 60.

GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, and more than 300 publications across the United States.

Robinson receives change of venue

Rep. Bradley Robinson, D-Bonne Terre's felony leaving the scene of an accident trial will not take place in St. Francois County.

Judge Scott Thomsen ruled Monday that Robinson's trial will be held in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County.

Robinson, 42, was allegedly driving his pickup on Jan. 1 when he struck a man, severely injuring him. Surveillance video purportedly shows Robinson and his wife changing places to make it appear that Robinson's wife Tara was driving, and then leaving the scene. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, five passengers in the pickup have been granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against the Robinsons.

Court records indicate Tara Robinson's trial will be held Sept. 4, a postponement from the original July 18. Mrs. Robinson is charged with a misdemeanor, making a false declaration.

Bradley Robinson will be represented by one of St. Louis' most powerful defense lawyers, Travis Noble, a former policeman and drug agent, who has earned a reputation for winning DWI cases (the Robinson cases involves no DWI allegations).

Robinson is not seeking re-election.

Obama campaign releases excerpts from acceptance speech

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign team has released advance excerpts from tonight's acceptance speech, which is scheduled to begin in less than 40 minutes, including this one:

"We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

"Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay and tuition that is beyond your reach.

"These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed presidency of George W. Bush.

"America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this."

And this excerpt:

"You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

"We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put away a little extra money at the end of each month so that you can someday watch your child receive her diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

"We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.

"The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight."

And this one:

"We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans -- Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are to restore that legacy.

"As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

"I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future."

Governor trumpets internet harassment legislation

An internet harassment bill was one of many that took effect in Missouri today and was another one that was heralded by Gov. Matt Blunt's taxpayer-supported publicity machine:

Legislation Gov. Matt Blunt called for to protect children from Internet stalking and harassment in the wake of Megan Meier’s terrible death goes into effect today.
"The Internet has provided immeasurable benefits to us all. However, like many good things, there are deviants who want to misuse the Internet and social networking sites to harm others," Gov. Blunt said. "It is our job to do whatever we can to deter destructive behavior and the potentially tragic consequences that harm our children. The legislation I signed protecting Missourians from cyber stalking is a big step in the right direction."
The bill clarifies the crime of harassment to include communications by any means, including over the Internet. It also expands the crime of stalking to include any course of conduct with two or more acts over a period of time that is communicated by any means. Additionally, the bill requires school boards to have a written policy requiring school administrators to report crimes of harassment and stalking committed on school property to law enforcement.
The legislation increases penalties for harassment from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony when committed by an adult over 21 years old to a minor 17 years old or younger or by someone who previously has committed the crime of harassment. It also increases the penalties for stalking and aggravated stalking for subsequent offenses, regardless of when the first offense was committed.
Last year Gov. Blunt created the Internet Harassment Task Force to review Missouri laws that relate to stalking, harassment and child endangerment and make recommendations for changes to better protect Missourians from Internet harassment. His task force recommendations formed the basis of the new laws effective today.
Three years ago Missouri was among the first states in the nation to join the AMBER Alert Web Portal to ensure that information can be spread as quickly as possible when a child is abducted. Gov. Blunt also has promoted the INOBTR (I Know Better) Campaign to provide information about online predators and signed legislation this year requiring registered sex offenders to provide e-mail addresses and other online identifiers to authorities. The governor instituted the Missouri Alert Network to enhance school safety and supported funding for cyber crime grants to assist law enforcement in investigating dangerous Internet crimes, especially sex crimes exploiting children.
Gov. Blunt has been a national leader in protecting children from sexual predators. He enacted Missouri’s version of Jessica’s Law, an action that mandates a life sentence with at least 30 years served for predators who commit egregious crimes against young children. Additionally, Gov. Blunt made Missouri one of the first states in the nation to mandate lifetime GPS monitoring for sex offenders who prey on young victims.

KOAM July audience levels top competition

KOAM's news programming continued to dominate its competitors in July.

KOAM captured the lion's share of the audience at 6 a.m. 12 noon, 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., with KSN finishing second at 12 noon (when KODE shows All My Children), 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Besides KOAM's dominance, the biggest stories are the continuing failure to KSN's Tiffany Alaniz and Gary Bandy to gain any traction at 5 p.m. and KODE's Alan Matthews and Shannon Bruffett slipping past KSN's Jeremiah Cook and Stefan Chase.

And as it did during the May sweeps, the 9 p.m. news at KFJX stayed a pleasant surprise, scoring more viewers than KODE's 10 p.m. newscast.

6 a.m.- KOAM 8,000 viewers, KODE 4,000, KSNF 3,000
12 noon- KOAM 16,000, KSNF 6,000
5 p.m.- KOAM 25,000, KODE 10,000, KSNF 6,000
6 p.m.- KOAM 29,000, KSNF 12,000, KODE 11,000
9 p.m.- KFJX 10,000
10 p.m.- KOAM 30,000, KSNF 13,000, KODE 7,000

Gore concludes address

The problem with Al Gore's campaign speaking style is that he really has none.

Gore has become a media darling in the past few years, but has never stopped giving off the vibe that he thinks he is superior to everyone else, the same kind of label the Republicans are trying to make stick to Barack Obama.

Gore's speech has to be the worst major speech made at this convention.

Gore giving final major speech before Obama's acceptance address

Al Gore appears to be offering a stern lecture instead of a rousing speech to a Democratic National Convention clearly ready for Barack Obama's historic speech.

Gore has taken some soft jabs at Republican presidential candidate John McCain, as always following his party's practice for praising McCain before criticizing him.

Watching him,it is hard to believe that Gore received the biggest vote in U. S. history in 2000. Of course, you have to remember who his opponent was.

Blunt gets third crack at applauding illegal immigrant laws

It is a tried and true pattern in Missouri politics.

The governor takes credit when a bill first passes, then again when he signs it into law, and once more when it takes effect. Gov. Matt Blunt issued yet another news release about the passing of laws designed to crack down on illegal immigrants in Missouri:

Some of the toughest legislation in the nation to fight illegal immigration takes effect today under Gov. Matt Blunt’s signature. Gov. Blunt called on the General Assembly in his State of the State to enact comprehensive legislation to protect Missouri families and tax dollars from the threat of illegal immigration and the legislature delivered.
"Missourians do not condone lawbreaking. Nor do we look away when someone tries to take advantage of others. We enforce our laws. We defend law-abiding citizens. We reserve the benefits of citizenship for legal residents," Gov. Blunt said. "The legislation I signed embraces the contributions that lawful immigration makes to our society and sends a clear message that we will defend the rule of law and fight to protect Missourians from illegal immigration."
The legislation effective today sets into law policies Gov. Blunt proposed to crack down on illegal immigration, including prohibiting illegals from obtaining driver licenses. The bill also prohibits the creation of sanctuary cities in the state; requires verification of legal employment status of every public employee; allows for cancellation of state contracts for contractors if they hire illegal immigrants; requires public agencies to verify the legal status of applicants before providing welfare benefits; criminalizes the transportation of illegal immigrants for exploitive purposes; and enacts provisions to punish bad acting employers who hire illegal immigrants. The bill also requires verification of lawful presence for every individual presented for incarceration.
Last summer Gov. Blunt directed all state law enforcement agencies to verify the immigration status of anyone presented for incarceration. To date, this directive has assisted in the apprehension of more than 285 illegal immigrants, all of which have been turned over to ICE for further action.
Gov. Blunt is taking aggressive steps to curb illegal immigration in Missouri. The governor continues to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to fight illegal immigration. The Missouri Highway Patrol has 10 troopers that recently attended and graduated from training that gives them authority under Section 287g of the Immigration and Nationality Act to enforce federal immigration laws.
Gov. Blunt also authored the state’s first directive to audit all state contracts to ensure that the employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S. and to terminate contracts if the company employs illegal immigrants. He added tough provisions to allow the state to immediately cancel contracts if the contractor knowingly employs workers not eligible to work in the U.S. and to require contractors to certify that all their employees meet state and federal employment eligibility requirements.
Additionally, he took significant steps to shield taxpayers’ money from supporting building projects that employ illegal workers, including conducting random on-site inspections and performing a Compliance By Written Demand action for all tax credit recipients to verify proof of legal status for all workers.
The Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) has adopted a stringent workforce eligibility policy consistent with Gov. Blunt’s recommendations to the commission, including sanctions of up to a lifetime ban of contractors and developers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants in violation of federal law. The governor called for this policy to be made permanent through state statute.
Last year, Gov. Blunt ousted a state contractor who hired illegal workers and ordered state agencies to enact a no tolerance policy through tough new contract protections. The governor cancelled the state’s contract with Sam’s Janitorial Services and barred them from doing future business with the state after local and federal law enforcement agencies identified dozens of suspected illegal immigrants working under falsified documents.

Republicans launch attack against Koster

Ex-Republican Chris Koster is the target of his former party's attacks.

The Missouri Republican Party issued a news release ripping into the Democratic attorney general candidate's ethics:

The Missouri Ethics Commission has yet to rule on fundraising complaints against Koster filed by a Lee's Summit resident in June for campaign finance violations. This looming complaint lingers while Koster, the “raise money by promising the world to donors” candidate bragged in the paper yesterday about raising 50-large in Denver at the Democrat convention. It will be interesting to see from his MEC report whether he was a day premature in accepting unlimited contributions doing what he’s done in the past saying forget the law, it doesn’t apply to me.

“Using campaign staff as mules for laundering money should be an immediate disqualification to be the next Attorney General,” said Tina Hervey, communications director of Missouri Republican Party. “Missourians should be concerned that the Democrat nominee for Attorney General is still under investigation by the Missouri Ethics Commission for illegally receiving donations that are larger than Missouri law allows. The people of Missouri want a candidate for Attorney General who protects the law, not breaks it.”

The four separate complaints against Koster allege that paid campaign staff channeled donations from the Economic Growth Council to various political party committees and then on to Koster's campaign. These questionable actions allowed Koster to receive contributions larger than allowed by law.

In July, Margaret Donnelly, and Jeff Harris also filed a complaint against Koster after a former staffer, Susan McNay, admitted to “laundering” money. Koster brazenly said he had done nothing wrong but he clearly violated the spirit of the law. His laundering of money made available to him large sums of money, which probably garnered him the votes to win the election. Margaret Donnelly has asked for a recount.

After 17 years of a corruption and politics in the Attorney General’s office, it is now time that Missouri has an Attorney General that not only adheres to the letter of the law but also the spirit of the law. Mike Gibbons is the only one who can restore the integrity of the office.

KOAM/KFJX Obama hang story hits nationally

DailyKos, one of the biggest liberal blogging sites, has picked up on the KOAM/KFJX scoop about John McCain's ad in which his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, is standing in front of signs that are supposed to spell out "CHANGE" but ended up taking a racial connotation when C and E were obscured, leaving the word "HANG."

More information can be found in the Aug. 27 Turner Report.

Nixon: Blunt's reckless policies led to repeal of campaign contribution limits

Today marks the first day of the new wild west environment of campaign financing in Missouri.
Well-heeled contributors can now contribute unlimited amounts to their favored candidates. The repeal was criticized by Attorney General Jay Nixon in a release to supporters of his candidacy for governor:

Gone. Vanished. No more.

Today, because of the reckless policies of the current administration, Missouri's campaign contribution limits have disappeared. Earlier this year, Matt Blunt and his allies ignored the strong support Missouri voters have shown for contribution limits and re-wrote the law, allowing the special interests to cut checks of any amount. That new law becomes effective today. Immediately, we expect to see massive contributions from wealthy Washington, D.C., groups begin to flow into Congressman Hulshof's campaign coffers.

The Nixon letter called for contributions of $10, $25, or $50.

Today is 45th anniversary of "I Have a Dream" speech

Today is the 45th anniversary of one of the most important moments in U. S. history, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Fittingly, tonight Barack Obama, the first African American to receive a major political party's presidential nomination, will deliver his acceptance speech in Denver: