Sunday, September 30, 2012

Podcast- Reading from my novel, No Child Left Alive

In the accompanying podcast, I read a chapter from my novel, No Child Left Alive, about how teachers deal with one year in a dysfunctional public high school. The novel's catchline- "If the shooter doesn't get them, the system will." This chapter is about the system.

The book can be purchased through the link in the upper right hand corner of this page.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Question remains: Was Claire McCaskill legitimately ladylike?

A Progress Missouri video

Newt Gingrich: We need Todd Akin in Washington

Female protesters, supporters line up for Todd Akin appearances

Female supporter: I would tell you why I support Todd Akin, but I can't tell you why

In this St. Louis Beacon video by Jason Rosenbaum, the leader of Missouri Women Standing with Todd Akin has a hard time telling why she supports Todd Akin (but he is a musician and she's a singer).

Missouri leaders demand predatory lending reform

(From Progress Missouri)

Community leaders and consumers from across Missouri met with Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), regarding citizens’ clear demands for reforms to federal and state policies governing predatory lending.  Payday loans are effectively unregulated in Missouri, and the CFPB has been empowered to help consumers across the country targeted by predatory lenders and other unscrupulous financial institutions.  
Right now, the average APR on a Missouri payday loan is a whopping 445%, and payday lenders can legally charge up to 1,950% APR. Legislative leaders of both parties have looked the other way as they cashed campaign checks from the same payday lending companies. The CFPB does not have the power to set interest rates.  But the Bureau can protect consumers from unfair, deceptive and abusive business practices. 
Missouri leaders met with Director Cordray Wednesday, September 26 to demand strong consumer protections against predatory lenders.  And, faith and community members testified during the first ever Consumer Advisory Board public meeting on Thursday at the Randall Gallery in downtown St Louis.  The historic consumer meeting was standing room only.

Community, faith, student and labor leaders from across Missouri came together to form a diverse and robust collaborative to cap the rate on predatory loans in Missouri. Beginning in the summer of 2011, the volunteers and leaders collected more than 175,000 signatures to put a payday initiatives before voters.  While the initiative petition campaign was ultimately unable to overcome an unprecedented legal challenge funded by out-of-state corporations desperate to preserve triple digit interest rates, the widespread, broad-based public demand to end the payday loan debt trap is undeniable.   
The central mission of the CFPB is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans.  Congress established the CFPB to protect consumers by carrying out Federal consumer financial laws in 2010, and President Obama appointed Rich Cordray to be the first Director of the CFPB in January.  

Ed Martin to appear at Mt. Vernon town hall forum Monday

(From the Ed Martin for Attorney General campaign)

Republican Attorney General candidate Ed Martin will participate in a public forum hosted by the Leaders Lead Locally Institute in Mt. Vernon on Monday, October 1. Martin and incumbent Democrat Chris Koster were both invited, but Koster refused the offer to join the open-door question & answer forum in front of voters in southwest Missouri.

As Attorney General, the liberal incumbent Koster is best-known for refusing to join with other states in a lawsuit against ObamaCare’s government takeover of health care. The conservative Martin was nominated by Republicans in August with 72% of the vote, and is endorsed by former Attorneys General John Ashcroft and John Danforth, as well as nationally-know figures Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Citizens and news media are invited to the public forum in Mt. Vernon:

Host: Leaders Lead Locally Institute
Address: 822 W Mt. Vernon Blvd.
Date: Monday, October 1
Time: 6:45pm

Early in the campaign, Republican Martin announced his availability for public meetings where each candidate would make their case and answer voter questions. But “Obama's lawyer” Koster has repeatedly dodged and declined invitations by civic groups and news media to bring the campaign to the voters where discussing key issues side-by-side with Martin.

Martin says of Koster’s disrespect for voters:
“We took the initiative to provide Missourians with availability for public forums, in the hopes that Koster would come out from behind the curtain and face Missourians in a person-to-person conversation about the issues facing our state. Unfortunately for the voters, Koster won’t show, and is trying to hide behind liberal special interest money that is paying for ads that make wildly trumped-up claims about his record. Missourians pay his salary with their hard-earned tax dollars, and deserve much more than empty rhetoric and phony TV ads.”

McCaskill profiled in Lifestyles of the Tax and Spenders

This one will never win an Academy Award for best production values. The video was made by Americans for Limited Government.

Billy Long meets with job creators

In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long talks about a recent meeting with southwest Missouri job creators.

When I am home it allows me the opportunity to travel throughout our district and listen to the concerns of my constituents.
In August I met with job creators during a manufacturing tour and an agriculture tour.  These tours are invaluable as they allow me to hear directly about the concerns of the manufacturing and agriculture sectors and take those concerns back to Washington.  If there is one thing Washington needs right now, it is the values and ideas of the hardworking people of Southwest Missouri.
My Job Creators Tour gave me the chance to meet with area manufacturers and their employees.  According to the Missouri Association of Manufacturers, in 2011 manufacturing contributed $32 billion to the state’s economy and employed approximately 250,000 workers throughout the state.  In 2011, the average annual wage for manufacturing workers in Missouri was $50,447.  Based on employment the top manufacturing industries in Missouri are food, transportation equipment, fabricated metals, machinery, and chemical. 
Throughout the manufacturing tour I listened to mounting concerns over the lack of a federal budget. Manufacturers are hesitant to hire because they don’t know where the federal government plans to spend money.  The lack of a plan has made it difficult for these businesses to create a long-term plan of their own. As a former small businessman, I know the importance of budgeting and being a responsible steward of the taxpayer’s hard-earned dollars.
In an effort to ensure a level playing field for our nation’s manufacturers, I am the lead sponsor of the Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion (ENFORCE) Act (H.R. 3057).  I understand that American companies face threats from foreign companies who work to circumvent international trade laws in an effort to avoid paying the duties they owe.  My legislation works to ensure that U.S. Custom Officials will aggressively enforce anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders.  This legislation does not stop free trade.  It simply promotes free and fair trade and sends a message that the U.S. will not tolerate abuses of agreed international trade rules. The ENFORCE Act is about protecting U.S. jobs and manufacturers by making sure foreign businesses are not able to violate the laws that everyone, including American businesses, follow.
Agriculture is another vital industry in Missouri.  I believe it is important to support the growth and development of Missouri’s agriculture industry, which will encourage economic growth in our state and nation, and that is the message I heard during my agriculture tour.
Although we have received much needed rain recently, the long term drought conditions have been devastating to most of our farmers. On August 2, I supported disaster relief legislation to help farmers.  The disaster relief legislation retroactively extends the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Program, the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program and the Tree Assistance Program for the current budget year of 2012.  The bill is paid for through reductions to conservation programs resulting in net savings of $256 million over ten years.  Unfortunately, this legislation is stalled in the Senate.
Farmers and ranchers are small businessmen and I support passage of a long-term farm bill that would provide certainty for the agriculture community.  I signed a bipartisan letter urging House leaders to bring the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill (H.R. 6083) to a vote.  I am frustrated the House has not debated H.R. 6083 because I believe a long-term farm bill provides the House with an opportunity to reform programs to work better in today’s marketplace and to do so in a fiscally accountable manner.  We feed the world and once we lose or diminish our agricultural industry we will never get it back to where it needs to be.
During these tough economic times, now more than ever, we need to create jobs. To do this we need to keep our nation’s manufacturing and agriculture sectors strong, and make the United States the best place to do business.

Geographically-challenged Todd Akin tells London reporter, "Top of the morning to you"

Joplin home owners can receive free trees and planting help

(From the Missouri Department of Conservation)

For many people who were in the path of the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado, recovery will be a long process. As health issues, property damage and other personal matters become resolved, many homeowners are turning their attention to restoring trees that once shaded streets and homes. Assistance is available for these homeowners through a new program.
Volunteers and staff from the City of Joplin and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) are planting free trees for residents who have applied to receive trees through Priority ReLeaf, a program of Forest ReLeaf of Missouri that is designed to help storm-affected areas statewide. In Joplin, Priority ReLeaf is partnering with the City of Joplin, the City of Duquesne, MDC, Rebuild Joplin, and AmeriCorps. Thus far, tree-planting efforts in Joplin have focused on parks and other public areas. This program shifts much of the city’s re-foresting efforts to residential areas.
“People are moving back into their houses and we can help those houses become homes by planting trees,” said MDC Forestry Recovery Coordinator Ric Mayer.
It’s hoped that 2,000 trees planted between now and next spring as part of this effort. Trees will be planted through next March as weather permits.
Applications for these trees are available at the Joplin Parks and Recreation Administration Building, 3010 W. First St. (417-624-6937), or the Duquesne City Hall, 1501 S. Duquesne Road (417-781-5085). Applications can also be filled out online at

Democratic Attorney General Association makes it half million for Koster

The Missouri chapter of the Democratic Attorney General Association contributed another $250,000 to Chris Koster's re-election campaign today, making it a cool half million it has donated to this point.

Missouri Ethics Commission records show the national DAGA contributed the money to the state chapter on Friday.

Friday, September 28, 2012

SEIU ad- Todd Akin: Wrong for Missouri

Not one person in Missouri thinks Todd Akin thinks any form of rape is legitimate

In the accompanying video, conservative talk show host Bryan Fischer, talking with Gina Loudon, says "There is not a single solitary soul in Missouri who thinks that Todd Akin thinks any form of rape is legitimate."
He also points out a poll that shows Todd Akin is three points ahead in his race with Claire McCaskill.

Akin ad: Let's fire Claire McCaskill

The conservative group Freedom's Defense Fund has thrown its support behind Congressman Todd Akin, to the tune of $250,000, launching this ad.

Todd Akin on Dana Show: Claire McCaskill was like a cat on fire

On the Dana Show, Congressman Todd Akin suggests that Claire McCaskill was like a "cat on fire" during their debate at the Missouri Press Association annual conference last week.

"Her debate performance indicates she feel threatened," Akin said.

Akin also indicated that Mitt Romney is going to take Missouri by storm and the people will vote for Akin, too.

Todd Akin recounts his arrest at anti-abortion rally

NIxon ad: Spence used TARP money to buy $1 million home

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Video: Nixon announces $1.2 million grant for Will's Place

Kansas school, emergency officials learn from C. J. Huff, Joplin Tornado experience

Joplin Superintendent C. J. Huff was keynote speaker earlier this week at the Kansas Safe and Prepared Schools Conference:

With tears in his eyes, Huff told the tough story of those first hours and days after the tornado destroyed much of the city.
He demonstrated methods Joplin used to take care of its students and keep the education system intact, giving Kansas officials a picture of what worked and what didn't.
Huff says making quality and lasting connections now makes all the difference later.
"Find your common ground, find it soon and work through your differences, and be prepared. You can't go into a disaster like this not having high quality relationships. And sometimes we all have to realize we have to agree to disagree but at the end of the day, taking care of your people is the most important thing and you have to figure out ways to...creative ways to do that," says Huff.

More Missouri students earning college credits

Video- Sept. 25 Joplin Board of Education meeting

Among the items discussed at the Tuesday, Sept. 25, Joplin Board of Education meeting- moving the Hope High School sign and standards for the schools.

Crocker High School graduate donates sculpture commemorating Joplin Tornado

(From the City of Joplin)

Sawyer Brown wanted to do something to commemorate the lives lost during the May 22, 2011 tornado. He also was preparing to compete in a welding completion. So he combined the two projects and created a sculpture of a tornado, incorporating various art elements to depict the significance of this life-changing event. Brown completed this work as a senior project in the Waynesville Career Center. He graduated from Crocker High School, near Waynesville, this past May.
Today, Brown came to Joplin to donate this award-winning sculpture entitled “Gone, But Not Forgotten” to the City in recognition of the hard work, perseverance and commitment that the community has portrayed throughout the aftermath of the tragedy.
During the presentation, he pointed out that the shape of the state of Missouri served as sculpture’s base, with engraved stars on the state to commemorate the number of lives lost. The base of the sculpture is anchored in an engraved area of the base, noting it as Jasper County. The tornado rises from the base with 20 individually-cut sheets of metal welded together in a precise manner to form the tornado. Within the tornado is the date of the disaster, May 22, 2011, and each element of the date are welded into the vortex of the tornado, making it visible only when looking into the top of the sculpture. On the top of the tornado, he placed four stars in remembrance of the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), firefighters, police officers, and volunteers who worked and helped during the disaster. The statue is made of steel, and following the competition, Brown had it painted with a gray powder coating with metal gold flakes. Having to meet specific dimensions for competition, it could not be painted at that time. It is 12 inches wide, 18 inches long and 18 inches tall, and is made of steel. The sculpture weighs 80 pounds.
Alex Neuman, Brown’s welding instructor at Waynesville Career Center, spoke about the project and Brown’s creative energy to complete it.
“He thought of this idea, drew it out on paper and then went to work to create it,” said Neuman. “Sawyer is a mature young man with many skills and did a great job on this project.”
Brown won Second Place in the State of Missouri Skills USA competition with this sculpture. He said he always planned to donate it to the City.
“I came down here (Joplin) after the tornado because I had family here,” said Brown, “and I couldn't’t believe the devastation. I wanted to do something to recognize those who had lost their lives during the disaster.”
Many family and friends joined Brown for the presentation including his parents Jeff and Mary Brown, his sister Celeste, and Neuman. Also attending were aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, former teachers, and his high school counselor.
Sawyer was a great student,” said Ann Stevenson, Crocker High School counselor. “But I didn’t see him much,” she laughed, referring to his responsible nature and mature behavior.
Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm accepted the donation for the City of Joplin. “We have been humbled by the outpouring of support we have received from around the country and the world. This sculpture has great significance to us, as it shows what we’ve faced and that we continue to stand. On behalf of the city, we’d like to thank Sawyer for this gift to our community.”

McCaskill ad- Todd Akin: What will he say next?

Claire McCaskill's campaign released the following collection of Congressman Todd Akin's greatest hits Wednesday.

Kansas City station fact checks McCaskill ad

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Danforth: I cannot support Todd Akin

In this PoliticMo video, former U. S. Sen. John Danforth makes it clear how he feels about the Senate candidacy of Todd Akin.

Murder, rape charges dropped against Rowan Ford's stepfather; pleads guilty to lesser charges

East Newton High School is missing a student this year.

The 2012-2013 school year would have been Rowan Ford’s first at East Newton, the beginning of a new chapter in the Stella girl’s life.

That chapter closed before it ever ended nearly five years ago, November 2, 2007, when Rowan, a nine-year-old fourth grader at Triway Elementary, was raped and murdered. Earlier this year, one of the two men charged with the crime, Chris Collings of Wheaton, a family friend, was found guilty and was sentenced to death. The first appeal of that sentence has already been filed.

The other man accused of the crime, Rowan Ford’s stepfather, David Wesley Spears, will never stand trial for the murder.

The Barry County Prosecuting Attorney’s office dropped the charges against Spears Tuesday. Instead, Spears pleaded guilty to charges of child endangerment, for which he received a seven-year sentence, and hindering prosecution, which brought him an additional four years. The sentences will run consecutively, according to online court records.

Spears reportedly went drinking with friends, leaving the nine-year-old alone.  After her disappearance, he repeatedly lied to the authorities, before finally leading them to the discovery of Rowan Ford’s body.

Though Spears told investigators that he had committed the rape and murder, Collings insisted that  he was the only one involved and reportedly, none of Spears’ DNA was found on the child’s body.

Collings did not testify at his trial. It would not have done him any good. In fact, his attorneys did not present any witnesses, but simply rested their case. It was Collings’ chilling confession to Barry County deputies that after drinking heavily and smoking marijuana, he took Rowan Ford from her bedroom to his place, raped her and then murdered her when he thought she had recognized him and would be able to tell what he had done that cinched the guilty verdict.

Despite Collings’ insistence that he was the only one involved in Rowan Ford’s death, deputies indicated Spears had information that he could have only known if he had participated in the crime. There was no mention of that in statements issued following Tuesday’s guilty plea.

 The plea and sentencing bring to an end a case that has had a profound effect on life in Stella, a community of 200, over the past five years.

In 2010, when the community dedicated a memorial park for veterans, a tribute to Rowan Ford was included.

And visitors still flock to a memorial webpage for Rowan, with condolences continuing to pour in and pages filled with pictures of Rowan and images of cartoon characters like Winnie the Pooh, a direct contrast to the depravity and violence that ended Rowan’s life.

April 11, on what would have been Rowan’s 14th birthday, the following message was left on the memorial page:

Happy birthday, Rowan. i know you had a wonderful day with all your angel friends you have met, but just wanted you know i miss you, but haven't forgotten you and someday I will see you again and will see that beautiful smile and get a big hug from you.”

Ed Martin to debate empty chair: Vegas oddsmakers say chair is 2-1 favorite

(From the Ed Martin for Attorney General campaign)

With characteristically thin skin and evident anxiety, liberal Democrat Chris Koster blatantly refuses to join Ed Martin at several open-door question & answer forums requested by civic groups and media outlets.
Since Ed Martin announced his availability for public townhall forums shortly after the August primary, “Obama’s lawyer” Koster has repeatedly dodged requests by groups who want to hear the candidates for Attorney General discuss key issues and their differences side-by-side, on the same platform. Some of the Koster-killed town hall sessions have included: 

  • The Kirksville Daily Express
  • The Missouri Baptist Convention
  • Missouri Western State University’s Student Government Association
  • Leaders Lead Locally Institute in Lawrence County
Other media outlets have also expressed interest in holding a forum with Martin and Koster, and continue to pursue the flight-prone and suddenly shy Koster.
Ed Martin said of Koster’s disrespect for voters:
“We took the initiative to offer availability to media outlets and civic groups in the hopes that Koster would come out from behind the curtain and have a real conversation with Missourians about the issues facing our state. Unfortunately for the voters, Koster shamefully continues to hide behind a trumped up record in Cass County and a failing record as Attorney General. Missourians deserve better than empty rhetoric and television ads from Chris Koster. Koster claims to have the courage to stand in front of at least twelve Missourians in a courtroom;  but he is obviously ashamed and embarrassed to let his failed record as Barack Obama's lawyer stand trial in the court of opinion.  Missourians are asking 'where is Chris Koster's conviction?'"
Despite Koster’s absence, Martin will hold “empty chair” town hall forums in the coming weeks at Missouri Western State University and the Leaders Lead Locally Institute. Details will be announced soon.

Work progressing on replacing street signs destroyed in Joplin Tornado

(From the City of Joplin)

Work is progressing to replace more than 2,000 street signs that were destroyed by the May 22, 2011 tornado. According to David Hertzberg, Public Works Director, this project has been a challenge due to inflexible federal guidelines.
“Much of the funding to replace these items came from a federal highway fund, and unfortunately that agency does not offer the emergency replacement process,” he said. “It was a long and complicated process to complete. It did slow the progress a great deal, but we are now able to move forward in getting signs replaced.”
Following the City’s bid process for this work, CDL Electric has been awarded the contract for sign replacement. This project includes various steps with the first involving the installation of the sockets for signage. Sockets are the underground component that holds the posts, and allow for a quick replacement if a sign should get hit or damaged. In addition, during this initial phase, the signage is being produced according to the specific sheeting material requirements for each type of sign.
The contractor has begun the socket installation, and citizens will see this work being completed throughout the tornado-stricken area during the next few weeks. Due to the large number of signs to replace, work is expected to last up to six to eight weeks. Following this groundwork, Hertzberg estimates that the actual installation of signs will take another six to eight weeks.
“This is a large project due to the volume of replacement signs needed. We are happy to be moving forward in the process, because initially we faced inactive periods,” he said. “Now that the City has hired a contractor, this project will make great progress. I know everyone will be pleased to see these signs resurrected and signals back in place – including our City staff.”
It is not unusual for people to use landmarks for identification, and with many of these demolished by the tornado, along with the street signs, traveling through the City was sometimes difficult.
“We understand the frustration people had in our community,” said Hertzberg. “We are working to complete this project as quickly as we can, and we appreciate everyone’s patience throughout this time.”
In addition to large numbers of signs destroyed, the City had signal lights that were damaged or destroyed by the tornado. These signal lights serviced 17 different intersections within the disaster area.
The majority of the intersections affected do have working signals, with the exception the two intersections at 26th Street and Joplin Avenue, and 25th Street and Wall Street. Currently these intersections are working well with the stop signs and the immediate need for a signal is not warranted. The signal project will replace the signals with all new signals which will include new bases, stop indicator wiring, and all signals and posts will be uniform.
Currently most of the signals are on a time system instead of the indicator wire system due to the damage of the wire system. When complete, the signals will return to running on activation instead of timing.
The signal project is currently under final review with state and federal agencies and is expected to be able to be bid out sometime in October. Citizens should be aware that materials for the signal project typically have a long lag time (8-12 weeks), so it may take some time before construction starts upon the bid being awarded.
The signal project also includes city owned street lighting. This project has a shorter lead time, so work will be started in advance of the signal project.
For more information about the street signs and signals, contact the City’s Civil Engineering division at 417-624-0820, ext. 532.

Roy Blunt on death of Andy Williams: He will be missed

Sen. Roy Blunt issued the following statement concerning the death of entertainer Andy Williams.

"Andy Williams was a great man, a great entertainer, and a great businessman," Blunt said in a statement. "Having started his career as a young boy singing with his brothers in Iowa, Andy Williams spent his life entertaining countless fans in Branson and around the world.

"Andy Williams was a great friend, and he will be missed."

Billy Long: I'm still backing Todd Akin

In this interview with the Springfield News-Leader, Billy Long says he continues to back Todd Akin's Senate campaign and assures that he believes Akin was sincere in his apology after the "legitimate rape" remark.

Governor announces $1.6 million grant for Will's Place

(From the governor's office)

Gov. Jay Nixon today announced a federal grant to help the Ozark Center's Will's Place expand the scope of its services for helping children and youth impacted by trauma. The Governor made the announcement at the child trauma treatment center, which opened in January. Will's Place is named after Will Norton, who died in the May 2011 tornado after just graduating from Joplin High School.
Gov. Nixon announces federal grant to help Will's Place in Joplin
Gov. Jay Nixon today announced a federal grant to help the Ozark Center's Will's Place expand the scope of its services for helping children and youth impacted by trauma. The Governor made the announcement at the child trauma treatment center, which opened in January. Will's Place is named after Will Norton, who died in the May 2011 tornado after just graduating from Joplin High School.
Will's Place will receive a grant of $400,000 annually for the next four years through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant will enable the center to be a Category III Community Treatment and Services Center of Excellence that will serve not only Jasper County, but a regional four-state area that includes Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The Governor was joined today by representatives of the Ozark Center and other mental health professionals from the Joplin area; by Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Dr. Keith Schafer; by Capt. Jose Belardo, Regional Health Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and by Mark and Trish Norton, parents of Will Norton.
"When I was here in January for the opening of Will's Place, we knew this center would provide needed treatment and services for young people locally who were affected by trauma, especially by the tornado," Gov. Nixon said. "This grant will help the staff here provide that same top-notch level of care to children and youth throughout this region. The expansion of this center's mission to become a nationally recognized center of excellence in the field of child trauma speaks volumes about the good work that has been accomplished at Will's Place in a short amount of time."
In July 2011, Gov. Nixon announced that the state of Missouri was allocating $2 million to help establish Will's Place. The center has been made possible by a partnership between the Ozark Center, a part of Freeman Health System; St. John's Mercy; the Joplin Public Schools; the Department of Mental Health; the Children's Center of Southwest Missouri; and the Missouri Institute for Mental Health.
The federal grant will help the center:
  • Improve treatment and services for children and youth who have experienced traumatic events in Jasper County;
  • Increase outreach and access through partnerships with other community agencies to identify children and youth in need of trauma treatment and services;
  • Increase understanding of the impact trauma plays in the lives of children and youth; and
  • Extend the principles of a trauma-informed approach to service delivery agencies across the regional four-state area.
As part of the grant, Will's Place will collaborate with other National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative program grant recipients to share in the development, dissemination and evaluations of the various activities and products across the country.

Joplin to rebuild two fire stations destroyed by tornado

KOAM TV 7 Joplin and Pittsburg

Home schoolers remain loyal to Todd Akin

While many have abandoned Congressman Todd Akin following his "legitimate rape" comments or are split in their support of him, home schoolers have remained wholeheartedly behind him, according to an article in today's New York Times:

Many of the home-schoolers are also deeply religious people who want a biblical worldview to be part of their children’s studies, and many of them connect on a spiritual level to Mr. Akin, an active member of the Presbyterian Church in America.“Wow, this is pretty great,” said John Thrower, a home-school father from Troy, Mo., recalling his thoughts when Mr. Akin first ran for Congress in 2000. “Here’s a fellow who’s a home-school dad and running for Congress. Let’s get behind him.”The number of home-school-affiliated volunteers helping the campaign varies by event, but they can sometimes be as much as 60 percent of the work force, said Mr. Akin’s son and campaign manager, Perry Akin. He and the candidate’s communications director, Ryan Hite — two of Mr. Akin’s top advisers — were home-schooled.Students, not confined to classrooms during the day, can devote hours to campaign work as part of their social studies lessons. As practice for her typing course, Ania Bishop typed up Akin campaign literature. The day after the rally, her family — which has been named volunteer coordinators for Jackson County — spent about an hour and a half at a library near their suburban Kansas City home researching the voting records of Mr. Akin and Ms. McCaskill. They plan to design a comparison trifold board.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Romney: Teachers just want lower class size so more teachers can be hired

Mitt Romney continues to sound the same tired talking points that the GOP (and some Democrats) have used for years- teachers are great. Teacher unions are the problem. In this video, Romney makes the point that teachers just want lower class size so that more teachers can be hired, with the idea being, of course, that there would be more union members.

No mention that lower class size enables teachers to have more one-on-one opportunities to work with students.

No mention of the problems any teacher is going to have when the number of students in a classroom gets up to 30 or 35 or even more.

Just downsize some teachers and let the ones who are left double up on the students. What an education plan!

Complete video: Gingrich campaigns for Todd Akin

McCaskill: With a little common sense we can make our government smaller and our economy stronger

Conservative group known for backing longshot candidates puts $250,000 into Todd Akin campaign

A conservative group with a reputation for receiving contributions from small donors and then spreading it among a number of its subsidiary operations with little going to candidates, has announced it will back beleaguered Congressman Todd Akin in his Senate bid.

In the accompanying video, it is noted that Freedom's Defense Fund is giving a quarter of a million to Akin for cable and radio ads.

In a 2010 article, Salon Magazine offered the following assessment of Freedom's Defense Fund:

Thousands of grassroots conservative donors around the country who believe they are contributing to the fight to reclaim Congress in the fall have actually poured millions of dollars into a group of political action committees whose primary function appears to be enriching a notorious Washington direct mail fundraising firm, Salon’s review of the groups’ FEC filings shows.
The PACs — Freedom’s Defense Fund, the Black Republican PAC, Veterans for Victory, and the Republican Member Senate Fund — are all based out of post office boxes in Washington and all have a treasurer in common: Scott Mackenzie, a campaign finance consultant at Base Connect, the direct mail firm. Formerly known as BMW Direct, Base Connect has long been controversialfor its practice of raising large sums of money for long-shot conservative candidates, who in turn pay Base Connect as much as 80 or 90 percent of the money raised for its services.

Missouri GOP: We stand behind Todd Akin

The deadline has passed for Congressman Todd Akin to withdraw from the U. S. Senate race. Faced with no choice, the Missouri Republican Party embraced the "legitimate rape" candidate with the following statement:

David Cole, Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, released the following statement on Congressman Todd Akin’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate:
“Just like all of our GOP candidates elected in the August primary, the Missouri Republican Party stands behind Congressman Todd Akin in his race for United State Senate.
"Claire McCaskill is far too liberal for Missouri—voting with Barack Obama 95% of the time since 2010 and supporting every major piece of his reckless agenda.  We are confident that Todd will defeat McCaskill in November, and the Missouri Republican Party will do everything we can to assist in his efforts.”

It's not bad teachers; it's the economy, stupid

(The following is my latest Huffington Post blog.)

The biggest con job being pulled on the American people is the concept that education should be moving toward a goal of making sure that all students are “college or workforce ready.”

That is the expression you hear whether it is Republicans or Democrats who are talking about how our nation’s educational system has failed us.

After all, we cannot succeed unless every student is “proficient” in math and reading. In other words, there is no more room for the so-called average student in our nation’s schools because there will be no job waiting for him when he graduates…if he graduates.

As I listen to NBC’s annual week-long love fest for charter schools known as Education Nation, I wait for someone, anyone, to mention the real problems that are facing education today.

Contrary to what politicians on both sides of the aisle would have you believe, bad teachers are not the major problem and there are nowhere near as many of them as they would have you believe. Most of the truly bad teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching, something that is used by the teacher-bashers as evidence that good teachers are leaving because of perceived preferential treatment for lazy veteran educators who are just hanging on to their jobs for their pensions.

Any other bad teachers who are out there should be removed from the classroom, but that would still leave the root cause of problems in American education untouched.

The real problem, as James Carville once eloquently put it- It’s the economy, stupid.

For the past three decades, we have watched as the jobs that were once available for high school graduates, and even for those who did not finish high school, have been eliminated, shipped overseas, moved from one state to another as businesses chased after the state dangling the most freebies, or eliminated often along with product quality as businesses searched for a few extra dollars.

As soon as the workforce was retrained, many business owners found people who could do the same job overseas and thought nothing of eliminating jobs, putting Americans out of work and then blaming the educational system because workers were not ready to deal with these new highly advanced jobs that would be needed with the changes in the economy.

Many displaced workers returned to college, learned new skills, returned to the workforce, and soon found the new jobs had also been sent elsewhere, oftentimes with the help of tax incentives.

And now, what those who are talking about “college and workforce ready” students are not telling you- Many of the college jobs are also being farmed out, again with tax incentives to provide a larger dividend for those who make money by making money.

And then the real trickle-down effect starts. Colleges and universities blame the public schools because the students they are receiving are not ready for college work. Could that perhaps be because we are forcing more and more students to go to college so they will have jobs that may not be there by the time they graduate?

And the schools are pushed harder and harder to deliver what once would have been considered A and B level students because average is no longer good enough. Never mind that there has never been a society in which 100 percent of the people were exceptional learners, that is what public schools have to deliver if they are going to be considered successful.
And despite all of the pressures brought on by this political shell game, for the most part American public schools have delivered the goods.

The major exceptions have been in places filled with poverty, but whenever that is mentioned during educational forums like Education Nation it is immediately shot down as an excuse. Those are the areas where people at one time had decent jobs and the kind of middle class lifestyle that leads to educational success. When the jobs were there, there was no talk of our students not being “college or workforce ready.”

The real education issues are jobs and poverty. Don’t hold your breath waiting for either party to discuss them. It’s much easier to blame bad teachers for everything that is wrong in society.

Ed Martin: More murders committed with Koster as attorney general

I never knew that it was the attorney general's job to prevent murders from taking place, but it must be if you buy into what the Ed Martin campaign is saying in its latest news release, which is printed below.

Liberal Democrat Chris Koster hopes to cover up a miserable crime record as Attorney General by trying to embellish a spotty record as Cass County prosecutor in his new and undeniably false ad. Missourians are entitled to the truth: Under this Attorney General, violent crime is surging and arrests are declining.

Here are some facts:

  • The most recent Missouri State Highway Patrol "Crime In Missouri" report shows that between 2007 and 2010, the state murder rate rose from 6.8 per to 7.8 per 100,000 people.
  • The Kansas City Star reports already 102 homicide victims in 94 cases so far in 2012. Over the past decade Kansas City has averaged 106 homicides per year.
  • The Riverfront Times, which tracks homicides in St. Louis on a blog called “The Big Bloody,” reports 87 homicides in the city as of September 23, 2012.
  • US News and World Report ranked Missouri’s two largest cities in the top ten most dangerous cities in the United States in 2011, with St. Louis at #1 and Kansas City ranked #9.
  • KSPR in Springfield reported the city already has had 11 murders so far in 2012, only one away from the city’s homicide record of 12 in a single year.
  • Shockingly, the homicide arrest rate in Missouri plummeted from 7.5 to 3.8 during Koster's first two years, and has remained a full two points below pre-Koster levels, according to the Highway Patrol.
Steve Michael, campaign manager for the Ed Martin campaign says Koster’s claims do not match up to the facts.
“The truth is that murders are up and arrests are down under Koster. As Attorney General, Ed Martin will put the safety of Missourians first, and take the lead in developing strategies with the Crime Cutting Council of the top leaders in local enforcement. Koster’s vain claims of being ‘tough on crime’ simply fall apart when analyzed. The increase in homicides under Koster has been terrible. In Cass County, Koster did not have the nerve for a jury trial against the worst serial killer in Missouri history, James Robinson. Instead, Koster made a plea deal to let Robinson off the hook for the death penalty, but did not even get from Robinson the location of his victims’ bodies.”

Monday, September 24, 2012

Complete video: MPA debate between McCaskill, Akin

Todd Akin: If you write me a check, I'll remember that

Newt Gingrich: We need Todd Akin, not Obama's senator Claire McCaskill

Complete video: Chris Christie campaigns for Spence in Springfield

Kansas City Royals build homes in Joplin

Rick Perry: Ed Martin is a class act

In this PoliticMo video, Texas Gov. Rick Perry says Ed Martin can help Missouri take on the federal government if he is elected attorney general.

Emery message: We need guns to take care of Obama

(The following is my latest post for Daily Kos.)

Had his words been phrased any less artfully, former Missouri State Rep. Ed Emery might be in an interrogation room facing Secret Service agents.

At the beginning of a state senate campaign stop in Adrian, Missouri, Saturday, Emery pledged his undying loyalty to the Constitution, something he does on a regular basis and one certainly cannot fault him for it.

In particular, Emery loves the Second Amendment. It’s not there for quail hunting, Emery told the friendly Tea Party-type gathering. It’s not there so people can protect themselves from their neighbors.

“We need guns to be protected from the tyranny of government,” Emery said to a loud outburst of spontaneous applause.

Emery continued to talk about that for a few moments, then added, “Barack Obama has showed us what tyranny looks like.”

In other words, and though Emery did not put the two sentences together the meaning was unmistakable, Guns are there to protect us from government tyranny. Barack Obama has shown us what tyranny looks like.

It doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to put two and two together.

This, unfortunately, is what passes for political discourse in some corners of America today. And Ed Emery appears to be a shoo-in for election, though he does have a Democratic opponent in the November election.

Emery has been associated with the birther movement, became well known in Missouri government circles after his House special committee issued a report which blamed Missouri’s immigration problems on abortion (if all of those babies had not been aborted, Emery reasoned, there would be no jobs available for anyone coming from another country).

And Emery also has a disdain for public education, which he has never kept secret. His children were homeschooled because all of the dangers he saw in those “government-run schools.”

On his website, Emery makes it clear that he considers public education to be “slavery and a pipeline to prison,” and that vouchers are the way to go.

Vouchers are one way of providing the power of competition to state-run schools, but they are not the only way. Nevertheless, vouchers have worked where used, and all schools, both government and private, improved scores — some significantly. In addition, dropout rates always declined when competition was introduced via vouchers. However, big-government advocates fear competition and individual freedom. They argue that the use of vouchers will enslave private and parochial schools by “accepting government money and the strings that go with it.” They don’t trust private and Christian schools to read the law and make their own decisions about the risks and benefits. Yet, I believe it is a question of personal liberty, of choice. Why should big-government politicians decide whether or not parents and school administrators can make that decision? Non-government schools are capable of choosing whether or not they will accept vouchers; that is freedom. Freedom is about choice. The absence of choice is slavery — a form of imprisonment. It is freedom, not slavery, that produces opportunity, and it is opportunity that produces the prosperity and exceptionalism of the United States. In education, we have removed all of that choice. 

What is scarier than the prospect of an Ed Emery in the Missouri Senate is listening to the heartfelt applause of those who firmly believe everything he says.

What people like Ed Emery and many of those who have spread similar views about government in the Tea Party and elsewhere don’t seem to realize is that it is not tyranny that has kept them from achieving their goals, but an inability to learn how to use the most deadly weapon at their disposal.

If you want to get rid of Barack Obama and this perceived tyranny, you don’t talk about guns, you do it the way the Constitution you claim to love prescribes- you get more votes for your candidate.

And above all, you don’t encourage a fringe element that might not understand that you are indulging in heated rhetoric. When you lose, you take it like a man and you don’t go home and grab your gun because things did not go your way.