Why The Republican Party Is What It Is

“A reactionary is a person who holds political viewpoints that favor a return to a previous state (the status quo ante) in a society.”

Wikipedia

I often use the term “reactionaries” to describe those folks on the right who have a problem living in the 21st century, a problem coming to grips with present reality. I sometimes differentiate between reactionaries and conservatives because conservatism doesn’t necessarily involve reactionary politics, though it often does, especially as we watch conservative behavior today. Most of the conservatives we see dominating the Republican Party these days are—without the slightest doubt—reactionaries.

As most of you know, I was born and raised in Kansas. I lived there until I was about 30 years old. I worked there. I played there. I became a conservative there. I was baptized into an evangelical faith there. The political Kansas I knew was mostly a right-of-center place, with pockets of leftish resistance here and there, and for the most part its politics was not radical or reactionary. Today, though, like a lot of red states Kansas has been radicalized and has turned into one of the most reactionary places in the country.

Nothing could better demonstrate the change from a mild, if not moldy, conservatism into a radical and fiery reactionaryism than what emerged in Kansas recently. Last week, as nearly everyone knows by now, the Kansas House passed a bill that, according to Time,

would permit businesses and government employees to deny service to same-sex couples on the basis of their religious principles. 

That Jim Crowish bill, which has been condemned far and wide by progressives, passed 72-49 and is now being considered by the state senate, which is expected to either water it down significantly or kill it. Apparently there are some Kansas Republicans left who haven’t been completely radicalized by religious zealots in the state. But the fact that such a reactionary piece of legislation passed one side of the legislature in 2014—2014 for God’s sake—says a lot about not only about the Republican Party, but it speaks to why it is that our national government is so profoundly, if not dangerously, divided.

At the heart of this ascendance of a rabid reactionary politics in Kansas and elsewhere—there is an anti-gay bill in Idaho that is even worse than the one in Kansas—is the anxiety that (mostly but not entirely white) evangelical and fundamentalist Christians feel deep in their bones over the loss of cultural dominance they and their Iron Age theology once enjoyed. Most of the theological angst started with the Supreme Court ruling in 1962 (Engel v. Vitale) that government-composed prayers could not be used in public schools, then just after that blow came atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s victorious lawsuit in 1963 (consolidated with Abington School District v. Schempp) in which the Supreme Court put the kibosh on the Lord’s Prayer and Bible reading in government schools.

If I heard it once, I heard it a gazillion times from the conservative church folk I knew back home: “They kicked God out of the schools! Why do you think things are so bad!”

So, it started with those two court rulings, but other rulings followed that were specifically related to Bible-based anxiety over a rapidly changing culture. There was Griswold v. Connecticut (which found that because of the Constitution’s now strangely controversial “right to privacy” states could not prohibit the use of contraceptives by married people; later this freedom was extended to all couples via Eisenstadt. V. Baird; and now we are fighting over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate). Skipping over the landmark 1973 Roe V. Wade case (which isn’t necessarily—even though it has mostly become—a case involving evangelical theology), we come to Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case that effectively struck down all sodomy laws in the country and paved the way for the eventual legitimation of same-sex marriage, which is now driving right-wing Christians into convulsions not seen since the Gadarene Demoniac.

Along with—perhaps partly because of—these culturally significant court cases, public opinion has evolved in the direction of progress and against the forces of Bible-inspired conservatism. Holy Book-believing Christians have essentially lost the fight over whether the Bible or a secular Constitution will be the ultimate law of the land. This has led to a backlash, a serious and divisive backlash, among folks who take the Bible seriously and who genuinely—I repeat: genuinely— believe that America is going straight to hell because it has turned its back on God and his Word.

More important, though, than all the talk of cultural anxiety and ancient theology is what these Bible-believing folks have been up to lately. In order to turn their biblical notions and reactionary tendencies into public policies like the one proposed last week in Kansas, they have increasingly and fanatically turned to grassroots politics.

These religious reactionaries have educated themselves and essentially taken over the Republican Party’s organizational structure. One such reactionary lives right here in Southwest Missouri. I used to go to the same evangelical church he did and used to believe a lot of the same things he believes. His name is John Putnam. He’s from Carthage and he is the Chairman of the Jasper County Republican Party.

Mr. Putnam has essentially written his own bible on how to take over and transform the Republican Party from the ground up. He notes that there are some “183,000 precincts in the 50 states” and he outlines how the system works:

putnam's patriotsThe voters of each precinct, according to their state’s laws, can elect or appoint one man and one woman to represent the people of that precinct in their political party’s organizational structure (sometimes called the party “machine”).  The precinct chairs/executives become members of their county committee and elect their county committee’s Chair and Vice-Chair who, in turn, help elect their Party’s State Committee; plus, they largely influence which candidates will run (and most likely be elected) in their party’s primary election and who, subsequently, will carry their party’s banner in the November General Elections. 

All of this represents the nuts and bolts of party organization. It is how a political party can be commandeered by a zealous minority and how such zealotry can come to represent the face of the party. It it why the Republican Party is so schizophrenic. It is why its national leaders are so afraid to actually lead. It is why Washington is suffering from legislative paralysis. You think I am exaggerating? Putnam goes on to point out that,

Nationwide, half of these positions sit empty and most voters no longer even know they exist.  If Constitutional conservatives will fulfill the precinct leader’s role and elect Constitutional conservative chairs and vice-chairs to their county committees, we can cleanse our representative form of government in very short order.  This is assuming the men and women who fill the precinct position have the wisdom of  Cleon Skousen gleaned from The Five Thousand Year Leap and the virtue of George Washington (see Glenn Beck’s Being George Washington).

If that stuff about cleansing doesn’t scare you, then you don’t know who Cleon Skousen and Glenn Beck are. Perhaps now you can see why the Republican Party looks the way it does. This kind of tactical action is going on, has been going on, all over the country. Mr. Putnam provides local zealots everywhere, those who have a biblical ax to grind, with essential knowledge of how to go about that grinding. Become “party officials” at the local level, he says. Why? Because:

…party officials have a strong influence on who wins the Primary because of their influence in recruiting and endorsing candidates. They also influence whether the Party stays philosophically true to its platform. There is no reason why YOU cannot become a Precinct Patriot and be one who influences these decisions. 

If you ever wondered why a disturbed and disturbing man named Todd Akin became the Missouri GOP’s U.S. Senate candidate in 2012, now you know why. Even after Akin was disgraced, even after his horrific views on women and rape were revealed, even after the Republican establishment abandoned him, John Putnam came to his defense and supported him. And even with that robust defense of a man clearly out of touch with reality, perhaps because of that robust defense, John Putnam remains in charge—in charge!—of the Jasper County Republican Party.

That tells you all you need to know about what is wrong with the GOP. At the ground level, where it often matters most, the reactionaries are running the asylum.

Todd Akin Is The Legitimate Candidate, No Matter What The Joplin Globe Says

I’m not sure why the Joplin Globe would say this in its Tuesday editorial:

If it were up to us, Mr. Akin would reach deep into his soul and do the honorable thing. He should drop out of the race and open the door for a legitimate candidate.

Legitimate” candidate? Huh? Todd Akin is about as legitimate a candidate as the Republican Party can offer in this part of the country. As the Globe’s news story on Akin’s rape remarks pointed out:

Akin won every county in the Joplin region in the primary.

Get that? Every bleeping county. And the head of the Jasper County Republican Party, our old friend and evangelical Christian John Putnam—who was just reelected as county committeeman with 70% of the vote!—is not only standing by Akin, he is doubling down on Akin’s stupidity:

Akin’s response “was poorly worded,” Putnam said. “He has apologized for not speaking more clearly and compassionately.

“What he was talking about is forcible rape. There are established studies that show in cases of forcible rape, pregnancy is rare.” Putnam cited an article titled “Rape Pregnancies are Rare,” by John C. Wilke, M.D., from an April 1999 publication called Christian Life Resources.

In case you’re not familiar with Dr. Wilke, The New York Times described him as,

a general practitioner with obstetric training and a former president of the National Right to Life Committee.

Well, that last bit gives him away, doesn’t it? He’s a fanatic that won’t let facts and science get in the way of his extremism. He said on Monday:

This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight. She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.

“Spastic”? I’ll resist the temptation to say what you all are thinking.

The Times quoted a couple of real experts regarding Dr. Wilke’s claims about rape and pregnancy:

“There are no words for this — it is just nuts,” said Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, said, that “to suggest that there’s some biological reason why women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape is absurd.”

Nuts and absurd. That pretty much sums it up. But that doesn’t stop evangelical zealots like our local John Putnam or the fanatics at Missouri Right to Life or the insanely conservative American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer from embracing such nonsense.

Local bidnessman David Humphreys, who the Globe described in its online story accurately as “a heavy-hitter GOP contributor,” but in its print edition less accurately as merely a man “known as a GOP contributor“—wonder why they’d do that?—told the paper via “a one-line statement sent to the Globe by an adviser” that,

Akin is a moron.

Wow. Besides being an awesome bidnessman and a “heavy-hitter GOP contributor,” Humphreys is also a great judge of mental acuity. It’s just too bad he didn’t tell his fellow Republicans that before Akin won the primary.

Thus, moron or not, Akin is the only legitimate candidate the GOP has to offer voters in November, notwithstanding what the Globe may claim. He won the race fair and square and he isn’t any nuttier today than he was when he won it.  People like “heavy-hitter GOP contributor” David Humphreys use evangelical creepiness to win elections, and they should have to live with it when it is on full display.

And now that his nuttiness is out there for all to see and appreciate, it’s about time voters make up their own minds whether crazy evangelical fanatics like Todd Akin are fit to represent them or whether they will soundly reject such people—and the extremists who support them.

“Citizens For A Republican Environment”

Citizens for a Decent Environment.”  That sounds like a group of left-wing tree-huggers, no?

Except it’s not.

The identity of the organizer of the group gives it away: John Putnam, Chairman of the Jasper County Republican Party and a local cheerleader for a right-wing nanny state. 

Mr. Putnam is galloping giddy over a ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court upholding a 2010 law restricting sexually oriented businesses. In a Joplin Globe article today on the court ruling, Putnam is quoted as saying:

“We’ve largely stopped adult businesses from coming to Missouri,” he said. “In Jasper County, no more have come in, and one has closed. One that stayed open has closed its video viewing operation.”

Imagine that.  A right-winger’s right-winger, John Putnam, is boasting that his efforts—along with area legislators including a possible candidate for Lt. Gov., Joplin’s Ron Richard—have “stopped” businesses “from coming to Missouri.” 

Reporter Susan Redden, who wrote the front-page story, described how Putnam and his legislator friends pulled off this big-government caper:

Part of the law targets operations that market adult videos shown in viewing booths. Putnam said the key to the measure is not trying to regulate what is being shown, but the manner in which the showing takes place.

Get that?  The key is to “regulate” the businesses out of business.  Now, I happen to know, because I’ve attended all three Joplin Tea Party rallies—organized by John Putnam—that Mr. Putnam is no fan of regulation.  He’s a small-government kind of guy.  Except when he isn’t.

You see, Putnam is all too typical of the kind of Republican in vogue today. These Republicans pledge fealty to the Constitution, pledge to rein in the reach of government, pledge to get government off the backs of the people and businesses. But they don’t mean a word of it, when it comes to their own moralistic goals or their own vision of the Great Society. 

This stuff is nothing but big-government bullying, whatever one thinks of the morality of the sex business.  I want to be clear: I don’t necessarily dislike the use of government to clean up our environment. In fact, I could today join Mr. Putnam’s “Citizens for a Decent Environment,” if it now, after its great victory, focused its efforts on other things that would make for a decent environment.

How about our tax laws?  How about making things more decent for the country, John, by insisting that your Republican friends raise taxes on the wealthy, so we can begin to get a grip on all this debt pollution?  Or, surely you can see that the large disparity between the richest Americans and the rest of us is mucking up our national neighborhood—maybe even more than peeking at nekkid women at a sex shop? Let’s do something about that, okay?

Or, how about demanding that the Republican party clean up the dysfunction fungus it has been culturing in Washington, D.C?  Urge them to join President Obama in his modest quest to create jobs, John. How about it?

But, no, Mr. Putnam doesn’t have much time to worry about silly issues like how income inequality is damaging America. He’s fast embarking on more efforts to run businesses out of the state:

Putnam said he has questions about a men’s spa that operates in conjunction with Vegas Video on County Road 100. [Capt. Derek ] Walrod [with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department] said deputies also raised questions, and have been told that the operation does not come under the law because it is being run as a private club.

“Scott (Bergthold) thinks there is a bill that could address that, and it could be passed on a county level,” Putnam said.

Mr. Bergthold is an attorney Putnam’s group enlisted to draft airtight, nanny-state legislation that courts wouldn’t strike down.  So, stay tuned for more big government from our local Republican leaders, even as they attack the “socialist” Barack Obama.

Ozark Billy Snubs The Erstwhile Conservative

On Saturday, I continued my tradition of attending the annual Joplin Tea Party rally.

Unfortunately for organizers, though, there weren’t that many teapartiers who were willing to continue their tradition of attending.  This year’s contingent was much smaller than last year’s, which was much smaller than the year before. 

But the sparse crowd—maybe 150 folks—was nevertheless thrown lots of blood-red meat from the speakers, which besides the usual locals, included would-be senator Rep. Todd Akin, who has never met a Democrat who wasn’t also a socialist, and, of course, Colonel Ozark Billy Long.

Now, I happened to be standing in the back of the crowd, when I spotted Colonel Billy trying to slip away from the area where the speakers were huddled:

Sensing a chance to talk to the Colonel one-on-one, I hurried over to where I thought he was heading, camera in tow.  I was prepared to make and post a newsworthy video for my faithful readers.  As I was walking, I looked up and saw Ozark Billy staring at me as I approached, with an unwelcoming look on his face. Nevertheless,  I pressed on, again, with camera in tow.

As I walked up to my congressman, my representative, I introduced myself and told him I was from Joplin, clearly identifying myself as one of his constituents.  I asked him if he minded if I interviewed him with my camera on.  No, he said.  Really? I asked.  No, he said, I don’t want you to do that.  Well, I protested, why can’t I use it?  He anxiously looked around as if he were waiting on someone, then responded again that he didn’t want me to use the camera. He said, what is it you want to ask me?

Okay, I thought. No camera, thus, no record of our conversation, but I must soldier on.

I told him I wanted to talk about his vote on the Ryan budget plan the previous day, which essentially does away with Medicare while giving tax cuts to the wealthy.  I asked him how he justified that vote.  We have to do something, he said. He told me that what the plan does is merely give people a “cafeteria” plan like he gets as a government employee.  Since Ozark Billy didn’t know I had been a government employee, I suppose he thought that his response would suffice to shut me up.  But, of course, it didn’t.

I hurriedly explained to him—he was getting fidgety waiting— that the Ryan Medicare plan would end Medicare as we know it, and the so-called voucher proposal for those under 55 would not be sufficient to purchase insurance and people would have to pay much more out of their pockets.  I added that those under 55, even while receiving reduced benefits themselves, would be forced to pay for the current Medicare system, the beneficiaries of which will continue to receive the current generous benefits for many, many years.

He didn’t dispute that but merely reiterated that something needed to be done because the system was designed when people only lived to be “48 years old.”  Aghast at that, I responded with a “that’s simply not true,” and was poised to explain why.  Except that a vehicle—the one Ozark Billy had been so anxiously awaiting—pulled up beside us. And without even saying goodbye, in went the Colonel and off went the car. 

I, one of Congressman Long’s constituents, was left standing on the sidewalk, camera in tow.

Long returned a short time later and gave a speech that was mostly a repeat of an interview he gave to local right-wing radio station, KZRG.  He even gave us another rendition of his now-famous “auction chant.”  The small crowd cheered.  I turned red with embarrassment.

But toward the end of his speech, Ozark Billy said the following to the crowd, and to me, the camera-toting constituent he had earlier snubbed:

We’re just having a lot of good success helping people. But it is the House of Representatives. Never forget that. It is the House of Representatives.

I’ve got a Bozo on the front of my truck—a lot of people say how come you got Bozo on the dash?—that’s to remind me—and I’ve had it on there for years—that’s to remind me not to take myself too seriously. I’m doing your work in D.C., and I was standing right down there last year with ya and I’ll be back down there in a minute…

Good! I thought to myself. He’s doing “our” work. And he’s coming down “here” among “us,” the folks. That would give me a chance to continue my conversation with him. What a man of the people!  Colonel Ozark Billy Long, man of the people!

Except that after he finished his speech,  I watched him leave the podium, walk over to his Bozo-guided truck, and get in the passenger side. Then I watched someone drive him away. 

Still holding my camera, all I could think to say was, Bye-bye, Colonel Billy! Thanks for stopping by and chatting with your constituents!

Jasper County Republican Party Pooh Bah Gets The Front Page Of The Joplin Globe

I don’t know what the original conception was relative to the story that appeared on Sunday’s front page of the Joplin Globe, but I do know that it came out as an advertisement for the Jasper County Republican Party and its efforts to get out the vote for Roy Blunt and Tom Schweich. 

It also read as a plea for volunteers from the ranks of uninspired Republicans to help out the party two days away from the election.

The headline of the story could have been:

Help! Local Republicans Looking For Volunteers! Sign Up Now! Hurry! Democrats May Win!

The story, though, had this headline:

Turnout worries GOP

With this subhead:

                                   With low number of voters 

                                   predicted at local polls,

                                   party ratcheting up efforts

And in the spirit of fairness, on this Jon Stewart sanity weekend, without further comment, I shall post the entire story, so readers can judge for themselves:

Jasper County Republicans are trying to ratchet up local voter turnout in the wake of predictions that only 20 percent of the county’s registered voters will show up at the polls on Tuesday.

Republicans need a high voter turnout locally to offset areas around Kansas City and St. Louis where Democrat voter turnout is expected to be high, said John Putnam, chairman of the Jasper County Republican Central Committee.

“The prediction they had for our voter turnout was the lowest in the state,” said Putnam, citing a report issued by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office earlier in the week, based on numbers of absentee ballots cast.

The office was predicting voter turnout statewide would average more than 51 percent.

Workers in the election division of the Jasper County clerk’s office now expect the local turnout will land between 30 and 35 percent, said Doris Moorehouse, a deputy clerk in the office.

She said the 20 percent level was based on numbers of absentee ballots cast earlier, but that those numbers have increased significantly since the report to the state.

“We’ve gotten a lot more absentee voters since then; now we’re up to 1,778. We’ve never been this busy in an off-year election,” she said at midmorning Friday.

The county had more than 7,000 absentee voters two years ago, she said, when voter turnout was 61.5 percent. Jasper County has 76,247 registered voters.

The same report that noted a 20 percent prediction for Jasper County forecast a 54 percent turnout in Jackson County and 55 percent in Cass County, both in the Kansas City area, and 47 percent in St. Louis city and 63 percent in St. Louis County. Among other counties in the region, turnouts are predicted at 45 percent in Newton County, 58 percent in Barton County, 52 percent in Vernon County, and 22 percent in McDonald County.

Putnam cited the results of earlier statewide elections when Jim Talent won the U.S. Senate race and Matt Blunt won the gubernatorial contest.

“In the cases where Republicans have won close statewide races, there has been a high voter turnout in Jasper and Newton counties, and a margin (of victory) for Republicans of about 70 percent,” he said. “It’s not an issue in the congressional race, but we’ll need that for Blunt and Schweich (Roy Blunt, GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, and Tom Schweich, for auditor),” he said.

Putnam said he also is concerned because Jasper County has only a single countywide race — the presiding commissioner race between John Bartosh, the GOP incumbent, and Timothy Teed, an independent candidate.

He said the committee is working to sign volunteers to work telephone banks, distribute literature and place candidate yard signs.

“Our volunteer numbers are lower, but it’s hard to compare,” he said. “In the presidential year you have people knocking down your door to volunteer; it’s always lower in the off-years.”

I May Vote For Shelly Dreyer Today

UPDATE, 7:00 pm: I went to the polls today and asked for a Democratic ballot.  There wasn’t enough narcotics in Newton County to medicate me to the point of saying, “A Republican ballot, please.”

First, I must correct and clarify a few points from yesterday’s post on Shelly Dreyer: [See an additional correction below.]

The group who paid for Dreyer’s ad in yesterday’s Joplin Globe, Missouri Freedom, is a political arm of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, whose Vice President (not President, as noted yesterday) is Robert M. N. Palmer of Springfield.  The group contributed $20,000 to Citizens for Shelly Dreyer as late as July 16.

According to the Globe, “as of July 29, Dreyer had received nearly $136,000” in contributions for her 129th District candidacy, compared to $84,000 for Bill White.  And $56,000 of Dreyer’s contributions came from Missouri Freedom, the Missouri trial lawyer PAC, which normally gives its money to Democrats.*

Now, oddly, there seems to be some controversy over whether Dreyer’s candidacy is really an attempt by Democrats to win Joplin’s seat in the Missouri House through false pretenses. It seems Anson Burlingame wasn’t the only one suspicious of her association with typically Democratic trial lawyers.

Remarks submitted by John Putnam, the Jasper County Republican boss, to the Globe website yesterday, reveal an intense doubt about Dreyer’s real political identity:

Why did Shelley Dryer run a radio ad on KZRG saying she would never take money from a lobbyist when she has taken $57,000+ dollars from MO Freedom which is financed by MATA, the lobbying arm of the MO Trial Attys (Sarah Schuett, Treasurer and registered lobyist)?

Why did Ed Hershewe call me last fall and say, ‘I want you to meet the next Attorney General of Missouri.’? He, his family, law firm, and employees have given over $750,000 to Democrat candidates and committees in the last 10 years.

I can’t go on without commenting on the rather odd circumstance that Hershewe, a local trial lawyer, would call John Putnam for anything, much less to introduce him to “the next Attorney General.” Is this the way Joplin politics works? I wonder how Hershewe feels now that Mr. Putnam ratted him out, if the comment is true?

Anyway, Putnam also went after Tim Dollar, who was mentioned in the Globe article on Dreyer and White:

Tim Dollar, a Kansas City attorney who contributed to Dreyer, said trial attorneys are traditionally considered supporters of Democrats. He said at the federal level, 95 to 97 percent of the money the American Association of Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers, gave in the past two election cycles has gone to Democrats, but he said that’s not always the case.

“I am a trial lawyer, and I am a conservative, pro-life.”

He said Dreyer is “conservative, pro-life, pro-gun” and has integrity, and he has known her for years.

“I just want conservative candidates who support everybody’s right to fair access to the courts.”

Putnam shot back:

If Tim Dollar is Pro-life and Conservative, why has he given $86,883 to liberal, Pro-abortion Democrat candidates and committees since 2001 at the Federal level (including John Edwards $2000, Russ Carnahan $500, Jean Carnahan $3500, Robin Carnahan $2400, Claire McCaskill $4200, Al Franken $2300), Barak Obama $2000, ActBlue $4800, & the ShowMe Victory fund $4800)and $195,400 to liberal democrat candidates and committees in Missouri since 2003?

So, it seems there will be a Republican family squabble, if Shelly Dreyer wins the Republican primary today.  It’s clear that some of the local yahoo conservatives simply don’t trust her conservative bona fides, which means I may have to ask for a Republican ballot and vote for her.

What fun it would be until November to cover the insults, accusations, and defections of the local conservative establishment regarding their dubious Republican candidate. Or, conversely, what fun it would be to see them circle the wagons and defend her despite the fact that many of them suspect her of being a RINO.

There is a God.

_____________________

*CORRECTION: NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. I received some misleading information, which unfortunately I didn’t check until today, about the nature of giving by the PAC of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA-PAC).  I found out this morning that the latest filing by MATA-PAC with the Missouri Ethics Commission (dated July 26, 2010) revealed that the PAC’s entire $63,750 in contributions for the month of July went to Republicans.  To Republicans, I repeat.  This amount includes the $20,000 to Shelly Dreyer.

I also looked back to the last election cycle, which revealed  the same thing: MATA-PAC gave a lot of dough to conservative Republicans.  Make of that what you will, but I have my own theory, which will have to wait for another time.

[Hershewe photo from: http://www.mobar.org/21cf254e-dc34-44e2-8f93-63743eb2ccd7.aspx]

The One And Probably Only Shelly Dreyer-Inspired Conservative Challenge

As I was getting to know Shelly Dreyer—Republican candidate for Missouri House District 129—I came across a Questions & Answers page on her campaign website.  

Pedantic by nature, I noticed several, shall we say, teensy-weensy word-use mistakes in some of the questions, something I found surprising for an attorney and former municipal judge.  Perhaps these questions were actually submitted by careless conservatives, but in any case, I have decided to create a contest, using three examples taken from the webpage.

The first 10,000 people who can point out all of the mistakes (warning: the last one is a little tricky) and who also will send me their names and addresses etched on a $20 bill, will have their names tossed in a sweaty Joplin Miners hat for a chance to win one of these fantastic prizes:

1. An afternoon stay for one at Konrad Heid’s Panhandle Paradise, complete with a view of his formerly pristine beach and an autographed, framed print of his latest column in which he trashes our uppity President of the United States for holding a negligent, Gulf-fouling multinational corporation responsible for its actions.

2. A chance to attend a Joplin Globe editorial board meeting and watch the participants arm wrestle Anson Burlingame for space on the Opinion page.  Right now, he is undefeated, but, who knows, you may be on hand to witness Anson’s first loss.

3. Standing-room-only tickets to a four-and-a-half hour seminar on the potential dangers of expressive homophobia in the Age of Obama.  I believe this year’s guest lecturer is Rita Crowell, who, I am told, will give at least some of the lecture in Tiny Tim-like falsetto, while strumming a ukulele and sporting the same 18th-century costume worn by John Putnam at Joplin Tea Party II earlier this year.

4. An invitation to a private book-signing by author and Republican activist Allen Shirley, whose latest gift to area residents, “Plagiarism for Dummies,” received a Buy Now! from the Big Nickel Review of Books and is currently number one on the Flying J Bestseller List.                           

Here they are and good luck!

UPDATE/CORRECTION:  Anson Burlingame wrote in to correct the above:

I am NOT on the Globe Editorial Board. I have NO contact other than Carol with ANY member of that board. My only influence that I might have on the Globe is through the columns that I PROPOSE and Carol then chooses to publish.

[Tiny Tim image by Drew Friedman]

Missouri Now Safe From Pee-wee Herman

I know I feel better now that I have learned that a local Republican operative, who likes to put on wigs and appear at rallies to lament our loss of liberty, finally managed to succeed in tightening the noose of state government around the neck of the adult entertainment industry in Missouri.

I suppose one man’s liberty is another man’s reason to squelch it, even if the squelcher squeals hypocritically about government tyranny at local Tea Parties.  Only in Jasper County  America.

We consider this a tremendous victory for the health and safety of Jasper County residents,” Peeping John Putnam told the Joplin Globe.

As I have pointed out before, among the new law’s restrictions is one I find manifestly weird.

According to Susan Redden’s reporting in the Globe:

Businesses that show films or videos must be configured so to give the manager an unobstructed view of patron areas.

I don’t know which is more strange: people who would pull off I-44 to watch an adult movie in the store and masturbate, or those who demand that the government tell the business owner to keep an eye on such folks.

Too much for my liberal mind to comprehend.

But I do wish that Republicans like Putnam, now that Missouri is relatively safe from premature ejaculators the porn industry, would be willing to tighten the noose of government around the necks of Wall Street and Big Oil, which, like the porn business, needs someone to watch what’s going on.

Because some of that stuff is much more worrisome than Pee-wee Herman types who have trouble waiting until they get home.

Joplin Tea Party A Dud

Last year, the crowd “estimate” for the April 15 Tea Party in Joplin was 1000, which, of course, wasn’t really close to the actual number. I estimated that crowd at about 500 to 600 folks.

This year, there was about half that number, probably less than 300.  So, by any standards, the Tea Party this year was a little lame.

But I did have a good time attending the event.

I talked with many people, some holding strange signs and some just standing, listening, and applauding whatever it was that John Putnam was saying.  And, honestly, some of the people holding ridiculous and blatantly false signs were actually nice to talk to.

I talked to one pleasant couple who didn’t seem like they really belonged at the event, since they didn’t sound as extreme as their signs would indicate.  In fact, after talking to them, I found that the health care reform law that upset them so much really contained a lot of stuff they liked.  The nice lady actually admitted that her views were “to the left” of her husband’s, especially on the health care issue. 

Another lady, who attended with her mother, said she thought all our representatives, Republicans and Democrats, should only get one term and then come home.  If they stay longer, she urged, they will just get corrupted. There is, of course, some truth to that.

But not all of the people I talked to were as nice.

One guy I was photographing took offense at a question I ask him about his sign. Here is the sign in question, which should look familiar because I have posted about it before:

I tried to ask him what his sign meant, which set him off.  At one point, he walked up and got in my face and threatened me, and I had to gently push him back.  After that, he seemed to calm down a little bit, so I decided to crank up the video:

Although I disagree with the guy, he had every right to tote his sign to the event and display it, but apparently the organizer, John Putnam, didn’t think so.  According to this guy and an independent witness I talked to, Mr. Putnam tried to get him removed from the sidewalk.  Presumably because the sign sent a message contrary to what Mr. Putnam envisioned for his rally.

As for other signs—messages—here are a few I saw:

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I found something rather disturbing as I read through the messages written on a long  “scroll,” provided, presumably, for folks to express their grievances against the government. Notice the “regime” reference, straight from the lips of Rush Limbaugh:

I took the time to interview a gentleman who was holding a sign that cried out for explanation.  Here’s the interview:

Finally, what is a Joplin Tea Party without a new costume gracing the body of John Putnam?  Incidentally, on KZRG this morning (an event sponsor), before the event got underway I heard Kara Marxer interview Mr. Putnam and she remarked about his nifty uniform, saying something about his “Hessian boots.” 

Gently, the head of the Jasper County Republicans reminded her that they were not Hessian boots, since the Hessians were on the other side of the fight in the Revolutionary War.  Whoops! 

[All photos and videos by The Erstwhile Conservative, so whoever borrowed one of last year’s photos and put it on John Putnam’s Southwest Missouri Conservative Network, please credit TEC in the future. It’s the Christian thing to do.]

“Peeping Putnam” And “Faith-based Tyranny”

John Putnam, local Tea Party organizer and the Christian conscience of Jasper County, made the news again yesterday.  In a story in the Joplin Globe, “Adult store bill backers optimistic,” the moral crusader is reportedly “pleased” with the Missouri Senate’s passage—by a 32-2 vote—of a bill to further regulate sexually oriented businesses in our Christian state.

Leaving aside for a moment the propriety of a teabagging, free-market espousing, Founder-quoting advocate for liberty supporting government regulation of a business solely on moral grounds, let’s look at what the bill, and its companion bill in the Missouri House, might do:

Among other things, both measures require sexually oriented businesses to be set back at least 1,000 feet from sites including homes, schools, churches, day cares, libraries and public parks; bar a person from appearing nude in the business; and set visibility and monitoring requirements on booths where films and videos are shown.

That last one is interesting: It would, “set visibility and monitoring requirements on booths where films and videos are shown.”

The only purpose for such a “peeping Putnam” provision would be to prohibit potential purchasers from prematurely pleasuring themselves before entering the sanctuary (for now) of their homes.

Now, why would a teabagging, free-market espousing, Founder-quoting advocate for liberty care about that and support what Harvey Wasserman called, “faith-based tyranny“?

Beats me.

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