Jo Ann Emerson Asks For Forgiveness?

In the run-up to the 2010 elections, many Missouri bloggers tried to remind folks about Roy Blunt’s connection to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, both convicted felons, as well as Blunt’s other rather extensive ties to lobbyists. 

He trounced Robin Carnahan by a 54-41 margin.

Many also tried to point out his crucial role in the last-minute passing of the Medicare Part D entitlement—unfunded—which he acted out by helping the House Republican leadership cajole and caress as many reluctant Republicans as they could in order to get their votes, sometimes getting them to switch their votes. (FiredUp!Missouri has a nice summary of the sordid tale here.)

After all, as The Washington Post put it, the House leadership made sure their members knew the prescription drug benefit issue was important “to the party and the president.”

Yeah.  And to the drug companies.

The pharmaceutical industry benefits from the legislation because most of the cost is picked up by taxpayers and the Medicare program is not allowed to negotiate prices with the drug companies. Not allowed by law.  By a law that was pushed by Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt and enacted in 2003 by a majority of Republicans, including by Representative Jo Ann Emerson, a legislative neighbor of Blunt’s here in Missouri at the time.

As former Reagan domestic policy adviser and Bush I treasury official Bruce Bartlett said, “the Medicare drug benefit was a pure giveaway,” and it, “had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit.”  He added:

…anyone who voted for the drug benefit, especially someone who switched his vote to make its enactment possible, has zero credibility. People like Franks ought to have the decency to keep their mouths shut forever when it comes to blaming anyone else for increasing the national debt.

He finished with this:

It astonishes me that a party enacting anything like the drug benefit would have the chutzpah to view itself as fiscally responsible in any sense of the term. As far as I am concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt.

Well, Jo Ann Emerson, who represents the south central and southeast part of our state, was one of those Republicans who voted for the prescription drug bill to keep it alive in the House.  And she was one of those who changed her vote, at the behest of Roy Blunt.  And then she voted against it on final passage.

Go figure.

In any case, I’m not at this time going to knock Emerson for that vote-and-switch. That’s not the point I want to make.

I want to offer her some praise.

Perhaps out of some kind of legislative penance, she is trying to make amends.  According to Vermont Public Radio Emerson is co-sponsoring a bill with Vermont Democrat Peter Welch that would,

allow the federal government to negotiate prices for prescription drugs that are bought under the Medicare Part D program.

Congressman Welch has essentially called Medicare Part D a “corrupt bargain,” and claims that his and Emerson’s bill would save taxpayers $156 billion over the next ten years by giving the government the power to negotiate a bulk discount for drugs.

The idea has failed before but Welch is optimistic about the bill’s chances this time:

I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at passing it this year because there is such a focus on the budget. The total focus on the new Republican majority is on cutting spending. This is tailor-made to help them achieve that goal. It’s $160 billion in savings. I think it’s a very compelling argument and it will allow those who claim they want to taxpayer money a chance to do so.

I’m not exactly sure how proud Rep. Emerson is of her co-sponsorship of this bill, since I could find nothing about it on her website, but here’s hoping she will enthusiastically work out her penance for her past legislative sins, at least one of them at the urging of Roy Blunt.

And perhaps this proposal will serve as a test for those Republicans in Congress who talk big about the debt and deficit but often shrink in the presence of traditional Republican constituents like the drug companies.

Where Have A Lot Of The Jobs Gone? Just Ask The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

If the following story doesn’t outrage you, then you need to get your piss meter fixed. 

During the opening segment on last night’s Rachel Maddow Show, St. Rachel played a short clip of Chamber of Commerce honcho Tom Donohue extolling the virtues of outsourcing American jobs to other countries:

There are legitimate values in outsourcing, not only jobs but work.*

During the segment, Rachel played an ad running against Robin Carnahan, paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The ad essentially connected Carnahan to the loss of 120,000 jobs in Missouri, to which Maddow said:

Missouri lost 120,000 jobs. Take a guess where those jobs went. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.  That’s right. More than 102,000 people who live in Missouri lost their jobs because Missouri companies decided they would rather fire Americans and instead have people in other countries do that work. Chamber of Commerce is all for it! Remember, according to them outsourcing is good!

As I said, watch the whole segment and your piss meter should spike:

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*For a lame defense of his views on outsourcing, from 2007, look here.

Blunt Chickens Out On His Own Debate Proposal

Our own Joplin Globe made the Huffington Post today, in a story about the debating cowardice of Roy Blunt.

The story by Amanda Terkel began:

The debate over debating is heating up in Missouri’s Senate race, with Democrat Robin Carnahan accusing her opponent, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) of backing out on a package of debates that he originally proposed.

It seems that the once-courageous Blunt had written a letter to Carnahan inviting her to join him in six debates, including two on national television (Fox News Sunday and Meet The Press).  Carnahan says she accepted the invitations.

Now, however, Blunt has backed out of all but two of the debates, one in Kansas City on public television and one in Lake Ozark that will not be televised.  The Blunt logic in this strategy is obvious, no?

As Globe readers know, our paper was attempting to put together a debate between Blunt and Carnahan here in Joplin.  Terkel mentions the effort in her article:

On Sunday, the Joplin Globe in Missouri expressed disappointment and confusion with the Blunt campaign over its refusal to accept its invitation for a debate. “[Carnahan campaign spokesman Tony] Wyche, after we assured him of television coverage out of Joplin and Springfield, said that Carnahan would accept,” read the editorial. “Rich Chrismer, with Blunt’s campaign, did not decline our invitation. In fact he told me that Blunt had not declined any of the invitations. But, I didn’t get the yes I needed to move forward.”

In other words, Globe editor Carol Stark, who was trying to organize the debate, had to stop her efforts because Roy Blunt would not commit to doing it.  Damn.  When you’re afraid to debate in Republican-happy Joplin, you are really afraid.  It appears obvious, though, that the problematic part of Stark’s pitch was, “we assured him of television coverage.” Whoops.

So, not only won’t there be a debate in Joplin or Springfield, but  the largest television market in the state—St. Louis—is also off-limits for a Blunt debate appearance. 

Obviously, the more debates, particularly televised ones, the more Robin Carnahan can expose Blunt’s long record as a Republican, including his paling around with felons and other unsavory characters, and make him answer for it.

And just like the actions of Republican 7th District congressional candidate and debate-frightened Billy Long, Roy Blunt’s hide-in-the-weeds strategy should send a signal to attentive voters. 

Carnahan Needs To Reconnect With Democrat-Friendly Voters

Now that speaker-to-be-if-voters-get-amnesia-in-November John Boehner has conceded that he will reluctantly abandon his hopes for continuing the hefty Bush tax cuts for his millionaire-billionaire constituents; and now that Coppertone John has also admitted that only three percent—3%—of small business owners would be affected by allowing those tax cuts to expire;  it would be interesting to know how our Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Robin Carnahan, feels today.

She gave away this issue when she supported extending those same tax cuts, and when you are trying to whip a well-funded, well-connected Republican, you can’t afford to give up the one issue you can use to make voters understand that Roy Blunt’s primary—and primal—loyalties lie not with the Keystone Light-buying, $5 pizza-eatin’ folks, but with the Château Margaux-drinking, Ruth’s Chris-dining, citizenry.

As Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times recently,

The Democrats are in deep, deep trouble because they have not effectively addressed the overwhelming concern of working men and women: an economy that is too weak to provide the jobs they need to support themselves and their families. And that failure is rooted in the Democrats’ continued fascination with the self-serving conservative belief that the way to help ordinary people is to shower money on the rich and wait for the blessings to trickle down to the great unwashed below.

Carnahan certainly cannot change her mind now and support Obama and most Democrats by asserting that a $700 billion gift to the well-heeled is not a panacea for our persistent economic problems.  And certainly most of us who dread six years of Senator Roy Blunt will, come November, cast our lot with Ms. Carnahan.

But by surrendering ground on the Bush tax cuts, Carnahan hasn’t done much to generate the necessary enthusiasm among Democrats her campaign needs, if she is to defeat Roy Blunt.  In this time of Democratic voter lethargy, she needs to get her core supporters excited about getting out the vote, especially in places like Republican-drunk Southwest Missouri, where the congressional choice this year is between a Know Nothing Republican with an R by his name, and an Almost Know Nothing Republican with a D by his name.

And siding with Republicans and their wealthy friends just doesn’t generate much excitement, unless you are one of those fortunate few who are waiting for $130,000 in tax relief again next year and the year after and who knows how long after that.

Let’s hope that Carnahan can reconnect with her natural allies in such a way as to increase Democrat-friendly voter turnout in November.  Because otherwise our only hope is that those voters’ distaste for a lobbyist-loving legislator from Springfield is enough to get them to the polls.

Prominent Conservative Commentator Says Roy Blunt’s Relationship With His Wife “Was Hatched In Lobbying”

From FiredUp!Missouri I discovered that Robin Carnahan released a new TV ad claiming, among other things, that Roy Blunt “got caught trying to insert a secret deal for tobacco giant Philip Morris into a bill just days after company executives gave him over $30,000.”

Even though it is well known among Blunt watchers that he did in fact try to insert a provision into the Homeland Security bill back in 2003 beneficial to the tobacco giant, nevertheless Fox4KC did a “Truthwatch” segment on the ad, featuring two political consultants, Jason Klindt, a Republican, and Steve Glorioso, a Democrat.

Naturally, Klindt defended Blunt’s actions, claiming it “wasn’t exactly a secret,” which Sean at FiredUp! pointed out wasn’t true by citing a 2003 article from the Washington Post, which began:

Only hours after Rep. Roy Blunt was named to the House’s third-highest leadership job in November, he surprised his fellow top Republicans by trying to quietly insert a provision benefiting Philip Morris USA into the 475-page bill creating a Department of Homeland Security, according to several people familiar with the effort.

Okay, so Roy Blunt did insert the questionable provision at the last minute—”within hours of a final House vote“—and it did come as a surprise to his House colleagues, who unceremoniously yanked it out. 

Among those who opposed Blunt’s subterfuge was the ethically-challenged Tom DeLay, and when you do something so brazen that DeLay has a problem with it, you know you may have crossed a line.

But I like how Democratic consultant Steve Glorioso reminded everyone of something they might otherwise have forgotten about the Blunt-Philip Morris issue:

He divorced his wife and remarried a tobacco lobbyist, the very lobbyist that urged him to put in the special favor…

Oh, yeah. That lobbyist and the object of Baptist Blunt’s either extra- or post-marital affection is Abigail Perlman.

The following is something written about the Blunt-Philip Morris issue, after Blunt’s party lost control of the House of Representatives in November of 2006.  At the time, Republicans were beginning to wrestle with just who their party leaders would be, including whether Roy Blunt deserved to be the House Minority Whip over John Shadegg:

By the same token, Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) also stands for principled politics and deserves the support of those who understand what hit them on Nov. 7.  Not so of his opponent. Majority Whip Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) wife, Abigail Perlman, and his son, Andrew, both lobby for Altria, which is the newly sanitized name for Philip Morris. If Blunt is limited to the standard congressional salary of $165,500, there is no reason why he shouldn’t take care of his family finances by letting lobbying firms that represent this death-dealing industry hire his son.

Blunt…deserve(s) to be thrown out of leadership.

And here is something written about Mr. Blunt the following summer:

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) wife, Abigail Perlman, is director of federal government affairs for Altria — the former Philip Morris corporation. Their relationship is one that was hatched in lobbying. While Blunt was dating Abigail, he quietly drafted language to benefit Altria/Philip Morris and tried to sneak it in the bill that established the Department of Homeland Security — without alerting the Republican leadership. Blunt’s mission was to minimize the sale of cigarettes on the Internet, a thorn in the side of Altria/Philip Morris. Fortunately, Hastert killed the amendment.

Now, those two selections weren’t written by a wild-eyed liberal blogger or a Carnahan operative, but none other than the toesucker himself, Dick Morris, a popular conservative commentator and regulator contributor to the Republican News Network Featuring Glenn Beck, as Fox “News” is now affectionately known around the expansive offices of The Erstwhile Conservative.

Like the situation with Tom DeLay, when the toesucker—whose ethical net has so many holes in it a whopper like Bill Clinton could squeeze through—questions your ethics, you probably have crossed the line.

Here is the Carnahan ad and the Fox4KC segment:

 

Eleven Drunk Democrats

A KY3/Missouri State University Poll released yesterday, conducted from just after the primary through August 22nd, brings good news for Robin Carnahan and bad news for Scott Eckersley.

The poll of 785 likely Missouri voters shows a too-close-to-call race between Carnahan (48.4%) and Roy Blunt (48.8%), and not surprisingly, it shows Billy Long with a large lead over Scott Eckersley, 50.8% to 23.4%.

But I found an odd result in the numbers. Here is the table for the Senate Race survey question:

Now, if you look at those results, you find that of those likely voters identified as “Strong Democrats,” a whopping 8.6% of them said they preferred Roy Blunt over Robin Carnahan.  Huh?  Aint no way.

If you look at those identified as “Strong Republicans,” a measly, but likely quite accurate, .8% said they would vote for Carnahan. That’s POINT 8, less than 1%.  And that’s more like it.

But how does one explain the obvious discrepancy?*  Since the category “Strong Democrat” represented 16.2% of the entire sample, that’s 127 folks. And since 8.6% of those 127 strong Democratic folks said they would be voting for Roy Blunt, that’ s either 11 liars or 11 drunk Democrats who participated in the poll.

There’s no way I’m believing that 11 people courageous enough to admit they are strong Democrats in the state of Missouri would also admit they prefer Roy Blunt over anyone, much less Robin Carnahan. They’re either lying about being strong Democrats or, as I said, they answered the telephone during a beer binge.

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*The opposite result can be found in the 7th District House race.  There, “Strong Democrat” registered exactly ZERO votes for Billy Long—no amount of intoxication could, apparently, make a Democrat say he or she would vote for Billy Long.

Additonally, 8.3% of “Strong Republicans” said they would vote for Scott Eckersley, which makes perfect sense.  In fact, given who Eckersley is—a not-so-former Republican—and given what Billy Long is, it’s a wonder that more strong Republicans aren’t voting for Eckersley.  But there’s still time for Billy to change all that.  Better keep him quiet, boys!

Globe Confirms Blunt’s Bacon-Bringing Bona Fides

Now, get this: in its Sunday editorial about Billy Long and Scott Eckersley, the Globe, inadvertently I’m sure, made Robin Carnahan’s point about Roy Blunt’s insider’s ability to bring home the federal bacon to supposedly bacon-hating Republican voters in Southwest Missouri:

But part of the reason Southwest Missouri received federal funding is because Rep. Roy Blunt was an experienced politician. We pay federal taxes, so it’s only fair that we get some of those back.

Notwithstanding the Joplin Globe‘s relentless focus on government spending since President Obama’s election, the paper nevertheless praises Blunt’s “experience” in getting our “fair” share of federal dollars.

Well, I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. But here is another, in the form of Carnahan’s latest ad on Blunt’s role as the point man on the Bush administration’s federal bailout of Wall Street banks:

Carnahan Triangulates On Bush Tax Cuts

Now that it’s been confirmed that Robin Carnahan, the Democratic candidate to replace Kit Bond in the U.S. Senate, supports extending the Bush tax cuts—including those for the wealthiest Americans—I suppose the onus is on those of us who call ourselves liberals or progressives to determine just how hard we will fight to elect Ms. Carnahan.

Beyond question, she would be far superior to Roy Blunt, who just this morning had to pull down an offensive web video that attempted to exploit Carnahan’s support for New Yorker’s right to choose on the issue of the quasi-mosque near Ground Zero.  Blunt, the ultimate insider who is trying to sell himself as some kind of reformer, would always vote in lockstep with obstructionist Republicans, so there is no doubt that those of us on my side of the political divide have little choice but to continue supporting Carnahan.

Which, of course, is why she thinks she can afford to piss off those of us who are her natural allies. Dick Morris, the repulsive conservative advisor to Bill Clinton, used to call this stuff “triangulation.”  And I suppose there is a certain logic to it here in the politically schizophrenic land of Missouri.

But there is something unseemly about supporting a continuation of tax cuts for wealthy Americans who will not contribute much of it to the economy—since they don’t need it to live on—and at the same time asking working folks for their votes.

As I said, no doubt I and other liberals will vote for Ms. Carnahan in November.  But much of the enthusiasm for her campaign—supplied in large part by people like me—is waning.  Already, the damage is apparent.  On DailyKos today, posted by TomP:

I’ve been pushing Robin Carnahan as a fighting Democrat, but she just lost my support and contributions.  I’ll vote for her in Missouri as better than Blunt, but my pocketbook is closed.  There is a real progressive across the river and I’ll donate to him instead.

It’s sad and sobering that from Scott Eckersley to Robin Carnahan, local liberals have to go to the polls holding their collective noses, just to keep right-wing extremists from really waging a Waterloo-like war against President Obama and his agenda to restore the strength of middle class America.

Here is the web ad posted, and then removed, by the Blunt campaign:

Roy Blunt Links Carnahan To Obama In New Ad

Chuck Todd, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent and political director, pointed out this morning that the following ad, newly released by the Roy Blunt campaign, is a “significant development in the national electoral landscape.”  Here’s why, he says:

It’s the most direct anti-Obama message we’ve seen made by a Republican running in a general election in a swing state. Now, that said, Blunt is trying to appeal to primary voters a tad right now. But if this ad against Carnahan, using Obama, does raise the Democrat’s negatives, don’t be surprised if it gets copied by GOP candidates across the country. This is an interesting test to keep an eye on.

The ad is very good, in terms of its potential effectiveness, and it shows that Carnahan will need to get better organized and employ some gifted media folks to combat the attacks coming her way.

Obama Outwits Jesus

Look.  Maybe I’ve been too hard on our guys. I mean, at least our 8 Republican candidates for a seat in Congress haven’t  yet said anything as dumb as this:

When you take a government and you impose, and take away all your choices, one of the choices you take away is to find the Lord. And to find your savior. 

And that’s one of the things that’s most destructive about the growth of government, is this taking away that freedom.  The freedom—the ultimate freedom—to find your salvation, to get your salvation. And to find Christ, for me and you.

And I think that’s one of the things that we have to be very, very aware of, that the Obama administration and Congressman Carnahan are doing to us.

That strange mixture of faith, stupidity, and poor syntax—which I just heard on Chris Matthew’s Hardball—originated in the mind of Ed Martin, who is running to unseat Democrat Russ Carnahan in the 3rd congressional district, which used to be Dick Gephardt’s old seat.

Martin was Governor Matt Blunt’s chief of staff, and I found out by peeking at FiredUp!Missouri that he is famous for saying of Robin Carnahan:

She is very, very devious. She does — with a, with a clever hand — she does the devil’s work [inaudible]. It is easy when you see someone who is a terribly unpleasant, you know, nasty, hateful person, you say, “Well the devil’s got a hold of that person.”

This woman, the devil, she’s figured out how to really damage our efforts to do amendments to the Constitution, to do initiatives for other conservative, good government things.  I mean, she will, she does everything for one thing in mind: politics of the left, and her own advancement.

So, based on this stuff, I promise I will be more careful in my criticisms of Nodler, Goodman, and Long.

Well, maybe not Billy Long. He’s capable of Ed Martin-like craziness.

Here is Martin’s “appearance” on Hardball:

Carnahan Absent Without Leave

I think I understand politics a little bit.  I think I know why Robin Carnahan managed to avoid Barack Obama’s appearance in Missouri yesterday.

But I don’t like it.

Of course, I will vote for Carnahan in November, the alternative being unthinkable. But I must say that her decision to be in Washington D.C. the day the President of the United States was in her state is, well, unseemly, not to mention disrespectful. 

Sure, right now, Obama is not polling well in Missouri.  But if Carnahan supports Obama’s agenda, she should stand with him and not shy away from it.  Sort of like Claire McCaskill has done.  People, including me, don’t like politicians who aren’t willing to stand by their alleged convictions.  If she doesn’t support Obama’s agenda, which is as centrist as I care to support, she should at least say she doesn’t, or explain why her vision is different.

But what she shouldn’t do is appear calculating, playing to a misplaced fear of not only Obama in particular, but Democrats in general.  She is a Democrat, after all.  And it’s not like Republicans won’t notice and call her on it.  And if she takes some of the money raised yesterday for her campaign, as reported, Republicans will certainly make an issue of it.

As I said, I will pull the lever for her come November, but right now I will need a hydraulic-powered clothespin over my nose as I do, not necessarily for her position on the issues, but for her political gamesmanship.

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