Missouri Is Only One Vote Shy Of Insurrection Insanity

I’ve tried to avoid talking about it, but I can’t anymore.

Missouri, the state I’ve called home for more than twenty years now, the state that is in a tax-cutting, service-reducing race to the bottom against my old home state of Kansas, is an embarrassment to anyone with an IQ that exceeds air-conditioned room temperature.

And that embarrassment comes at the hands of extremist Republicans who, because there is a lot of apathy and even more electoral laziness in this state, overwhelmingly control the state legislature, even though, for now, we have a Democratic governor.

I speak of a successful vote—I said: successful vote—by the Missouri House to override Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of one of the most obviously unconstitutional and one of the stupidest bills in the history of governance by otherwise sane members of the Homo sapiens species.

As the Associated Press summarized the bill—which late Wednesday night failed by only one vote—one bleeping vote!—to get the needed two-thirds margin in the Missouri Senate to override—it is breathtaking in its affront to our federalist system of government and in its indifference to the Civil War in our past, not to mention a profound indifference to civilization:

The legislation declares any federal policies that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” shall be invalid in Missouri. It allows state misdemeanor charges to be brought against federal agents who try to enforce those laws or against anyone who publishes the identity of a gun owner.

The AP continued:

Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, also raised concerns last week about the ramifications of a potential veto override. He said a court likely would strike down the nullification provision but could leave intact other sections of the bill that could potentially prevent local police from cooperating with federal authorities on crimes involving guns. He said the bill also could open Missouri police to potential lawsuits from criminals if they refer gun-related cases to federal authorities.

CNN opened a story on this nuttiness like this:

The Missouri state legislature is one step closer to accomplishing something that’s never been done: passing a law that will technically not only let residents own a machine gun, but also arrest federal agents if they try to take it away.

The Springfield News-Leader added this:

Democrats who spoke in opposition said the bill would “shred” the First Amendment, criminalizing the actions of journalists involved in the publication of the names of gun owners.

Locally, where all of our state legislators are rabidly right-wing and thus out of their minds, I suppose we can sort of praise Joplin senator Ron Richard—the Republican Majority Floor Leader in the Missouri Senate—who voted against overriding the governor’s veto on Wednesday night, except that Ron Richard, stupidly, voted for the bill originally. Here’s how the Joplin legislator, who wants to be governor of the state someday soon, explained his unexplainable position on this ghastly piece of legislation:

“The attorney general made some valid points about its constitutionality,” he said. “And after reflecting, reading it again, and talking to a lot of people including those in law enforcement, I’m not sure Missouri needs to be the only state in the union to impose this unconstitutional bill.”

He’s “not sure”? Oh, I guess that means if other states join us, Richard would have no problem with machine guns all over the place, and putting FBI agents and journalists in the hoosegow. But he wasn’t done explainin’:

Richard said officials in law enforcement with whom he talked were uneasy with a law that would nullify federal gun laws in the state and would make it a crime for federal agents to enforce them in Missouri.

“They said, ‘You’re going to force us to arrest an FBI agent,’” he said. “That’s not going to work.”

You think? You don’t think state cops arresting federal cops for being federal cops is going to work? Brilliant, Senator Richard. What a brilliant insight. You should be Missouri’s governor with a brain like that. More:

The senator, who earlier was speaker in the House of Representatives, said he did not regret votes to pass the initial measure, which he said “makes a statement the feds need to stay out of state business.”

Yeah, that’ll show those meddlesome feds! Dammit, if you come near Missouri again, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll let citizens shoot you with their machine guns! And the senator, who earlier noted the bill was “unconstitutional,” nevertheless said “he did not regret” voting for it in the first place. Wow.

It’s insanity.  I feel like I’m living inside of Franz Kafka’s worst nightmare. This state is falling into a black hole of right-wing reactionary ridiculousness and every single one of my local representatives is contributing to it. And there isn’t a damn thing that can be done about it as long as Democrats, and other sane and civilized people, sit at home in large numbers on election day and let these people ruin our state.

By the way, a supporter of this insanity, Senator Brian Nieves, says “we’ll be back to visit it again”:

This fight ain’t over, it ain’t over, it ain’t over.

Kafkaesque, I tell you.

One vote, people. We’re only one vote away.


The Unemployed Are Number One In Missouri

The Missouri Senate has given the finger to the unemployed.

AP story:

JEFFERSON CITY — Thousands of people in Missouri who have been unemployed for more than a year soon will lose their jobless benefits, marking a significant victory for Republican fiscal hawks who are crusading against government spending.

When eligibility ends Saturday, Missouri will become the only state to voluntarily quit a federal stimulus program that offers extended benefits.

As Barb Shelly of the Kansas City Star wrote, remember these names, the Filibuster Four:

Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit, Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, Brian Nieves of Washington and Jim Lembke of Lemay…

Remember that Kraus glibly said from the Senate floor that he sees lots of jobs advertised on the Internet, so what’s the problem?

Remember that Lembke said the unemployed need to “get off their backsides and get a job.” Remember that Nieves happily reported on his Twitter account that he and Lembke were “enjoying cigars and port in my office,” as they celebrated their ability to bring the Senate to a halt.

Kraus, Schaaf, Nieves and Lembke. They live in a smug reality that looks down on ordinary people and their struggles.

Those ordinary people amount to about 34,000 Missourians, prior victims of national Republican malfeasance, who now suffer yet another beating from four calcified Republicans—and a Senate leadership that refused to stop them—who want to make a philosophical point and turn down $105 million from the federal government. 

The troubled Jim Lembke, said:

We have to take a stand and say ‘When is enough enough?’ and send a message to the federal government, and hopefully shame them into doing the right thing and quit spending money that they don’t have.

On top of the sheer cruelty of it all is the sheer stupidity of it all.  While striking a blow at those 34,000 unemployed Missourians, Republicans are also striking a blow at those businesses that won’t get the $105 million, since everyone this side of Rush Limbaugh understands that unemployment benefits are the most stimulative government spending of all—it all gets spent somewhere.

But nevermind that, the Missouri Senate had more important things to attend to yesterday.  Barb Shelly:

Update: Shortly before 11:30 a.m., the Missouri Senate adjourned so that lawmakers can attend the Cardinals and Royals opening games, if they so choose. “Drive safely and have a great weekend,” the leader told members as the august body called it a day.

Proud to be a Missourian today? 

Right To Freeload Legislation Uncertain In Missouri

I watched a simultaneously hopeful and disturbing clip of Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley this morning on the issue of the Right to Freeload* legislation that just passed through a Senate committee.  The clip was posted by Missouri News Horizon and you’ll see why I found it both hopeful and disturbing in a minute.

Missouri Senate President Pro tem Rob Mayer is trying to figure out a way to not only get freeloading legislation passed through his chamber, but get it passed by a veto-proof margin.  Democratic Governor Nixon will, of course, nix any such freeloading law, and since no Senate Democrats will support it either, that means Mayer will likely need all Senate Republicans to support it in order to overcome Nixon’s veto.  That will be tough to do, hopefully.

But what I want to focus on is the pro-business agenda the Missouri legislature is currently pursuing.  Obviously, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to attract businesses to this state or any state.  We need jobs.  The problem arises when the pro-business agenda trumps all other considerations.  In other words, The Missouri Chamber of Commerce should not be running the state legislature.  But that’s how it seems.

The Missouri Chamber has outlined its priorities for this session in its Fix the Six agenda, which includes weakening our state’s minimum wage law, limiting the rights of injured workers, and making it easier to fire employees.  This anti-worker agenda is, of course, advanced under the rubric of “promoting jobs” in Missouri.  Fair enough. The Chamber of Commerce has a right to promote its agenda on behalf of businesses, just like labor unions have a right to promote theirs on behalf of workers in the state.

But in Missouri, now dominated by Republicans, the only agenda that matters is the business agenda. In the clip I saw this morning, House Speaker Steve Tilley classified the Right to Freeload legislation as “not a priority.”  That’s good, at least for Missouri workers.  That is the hopeful part of the interview.

However, it appears that the Chamber of Commerce wishes it would have named its pro-business agenda, “Fix the Seven,” since it now sees an opportunity to push through the Right to Freeload in Missouri, what with all the concerted attacks on unions by various Republican governors and legislatures around the country.

Either “Fix the Seven” didn’t resonate well with Chamber marketers or they just didn’t think they had a snowball’s chance to get freeloading through this session.  Whatever it was, the Chamber didn’t originally include the Right to Freeload on its agenda and Speaker Tilley made that point in the short interview:

Tilley: My concerns is [sic] that when you have the business groups come together and said,”Here’s our top six things,” it wasn’t in the top six things and so my thought process is try to address what they think are the top priorities and then when once we’re done with those things, then we can take a look at it.

Question: The state chamber came out, though, late last week, and said they do back right to work…

Tilley: All I know is when they submitted—I agree—and I’m not saying that there’s not a lot of people in the House that wouldn’t support it.  I’m just saying that right now we’re going to focus on the things that the business coalition sent us at the beginning of the year that we can find some compromise.  And I think in the “Fix the Six,” I think what you’ll see is, you know, you’ll see bipartisan support for quite a few of those, maybe not all of them, but quite a few.

Okay.  What we have here is Tilley acknowledging that he wants to concentrate on what is already on the Chamber’s wish list, without adding something new to it.  But look at that language he used:

“…try to address what they think are the top priorities…”

“…we’re going to focus on the things that the business coalition sent us at the beginning of the year…”

That is the disturbing part.  What is it that gives the Missouri Chamber of Commerce such sway over legislation in Missouri?  Why should it have such sway?

What if a Democratic Speaker said this:

“…we’re going to focus on the things that the labor unions sent us at the beginning of the year…and when we’re done with those things then we will take a look at their other desires…”

No, a balanced approach, recognizing both the needs of business and the wellbeing of workers, is the proper way to conduct the people’s affairs in this state or any state.  But here in Missouri it’s all one-sided, and, truthfully, it has been for years.

Fortunately, polls are showing that the people around the country are siding with workers and their unions.

In a CBS/New York Times poll, 60% oppose killing collective bargaining rights and 56% are opposed to cutting pay and benefits to reduce state budget deficits.

By a 42-31 margin, the public supports public sector unions against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, in a Pew Research Poll.  Those who identified as Independents supported the unions by a narrower 39-34 margin.

I did find even better news in the Pew poll.  If you look at the results below, those folks with modest incomes overwhelmingly support the unions because they apparently understand that unions represent the best hope they have of moving up the income ladder. 

Also, younger folks are overwhelmingly supporting the union by a difference of 33%.  That is a good sign. Perhaps we haven’t yet seen the end of the era of unionism, but only if unions can win the propaganda battle as workers age.  Republicans and pro-business zealots are very, very good at this kind of propaganda. Here are the Pew poll results:


* For those who don’t know, Right to Freeload, or as it is widely known, Right to Work, is a state statute that allows workers to obtain benefits obtained through union advocacy without having to pay union dues.  I suggest you never go out to eat with a Right to Freeload supporter because he will always—always—expect you to pick up the check.

“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.

Gary Nodler Makes Joplin Proud

Here is the first sentence in an article about the debate in the Missouri Senate over the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”:

Sen. Gary Nodler doesn’t want to offend the terrorists.

No?  Why not?  Tony Messenger explains:

“There are real-world implications,” Nodler said. “This is a policy that would directly threaten the lives of soldiers today.”

Nodler’s argument: The Muslim nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, where America is fighting two wars, are opposed to homosexuality. Changing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” would offend the terrorists in such a way that could put soldiers — and America — at risk of further terrorist attacks.

It’s not clear whether Nodler, a Neosho-Joplin man, is in favor of keeping women-folk out of the military because that, too, must offend those sensitive terrorists. 

Maybe he’s saving that gem for a campaign stop in our proud city.

UPDATE: I discovered a website dedicated specifically to Gary Nodler—no, it’s not his Gary Nodler For Congress site, it’s something different:

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