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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Battle of the MO CD 1 Twit(ter)s

The primary races in Missouri's 1st Congressional District are certainly getting interesting. The contest on the GOP side has been well documented by Cry Liberty, but if you want entertainment the real fun is the Democrat primary.

This past weekend, the League of Women Voters held a candidate forum at an adult daycare center on Washington Ave. Both GOP candidates, Martin Baker and Robyn Hamlin, were present. Candice Britton and Russ Carnahan (currently serving in MO 3, the district that was lost due to redistricting after the 2010 census) represented the Democrats. Lacy Clay, the MO 1 incumbent, declined his invitation to the event. Robb Cunningham, the Libertarian candidate, failed to respond to the invitation altogether.

The candidates were given specific rules prior to the forum. They were not to mention the candidates who were not present, and they were not to attack or direct comments toward other candidates, whether present or not. During his introduction, Russ Carnahan spoke mostly about MO 1 incumbent Congressman Clay. He talked about his poor attendance record and his support of predatory lending businesses such as payday loan companies and rent-to-own furniture companies. He failed to tell anyone why he SHOULD be elected because he spent most of his time telling people why Clay should NOT get another term. The moderator waited for Carnahan to finish, then immediately chastised him for breaking the preset rules. Since Carnahan was only the second candidate introduced, I would almost have preferred that they didn't interrupt and remind everyone of the rules. It would have been interesting to see if anyone else would have followed Carnahan's mudslinging lead - especially since the next up to introduce herself was Robyn Hamlin, whose campaign thus far has consisted mainly of attacks on both Clay and Carnahan and snide remarks concerning fellow GOP candidate Martin Baker.

But the fun doesn't stop there. And not to worry, Lacy Clay gets his shots in too. The real battle is currently being waged on Twitter. With the advent of social media, politicians have learned quickly that Twitter and Facebook are fast and easy ways to connect with constituents and potential voters. (Sometimes the connection is a little bit too efficient, as Congressman Clay learned firsthand when news of his divorce filing reached his wife through social media rather than private channels.) But it seems that the animosity between Congressman Clay and Congressman Carnahan apparently supersedes any lesson he may have learned...

Exhibit A:

 Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Exhibit D:

Exhibit E:

Exhibit F:

At this point, I have to wonder if they will ever learn. But even if they don't, at least we can grab our popcorn and monitor Twitter for a few laughs.

*One point I find especially amusing - Clay actually says in one tweet that namecalling is "the last resort of those who are out of ideas."  I wonder if he's noticed that the majority of his recent tweets would qualify as backhanded insults and namecalling.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Actually, We Built the Roads Too

“If you have a small business, you didn’t build that yourself,” President Obama said. There were roads, inspiring teachers, etc. Infrastructure. Other people who contributed to your business.
Yes, there were roads. And in most cases, the roads predated the business. Those roads were likely paid for by the government. But where does the government get its money? Government at any level has no money other than what it takes from citizens via income taxes. So those roads – the ones that the magnanimous government built in order to “rescue” businesses that otherwise would fail – were actually built by the businesses they benefited.
Yes, there were teachers – some inspiring, some less so. Some paid for by the government, some paid for by the parents of the school attendee. But that brings us back to the government and where the money actually comes from. So the inspiring teachers, just like the roads, were once again paid for by the businesses and individuals who used them.
And yes, there are things present in every business that were not made by the business owner. There are fixtures and machines in the family bakery that Great-Grandpa Kruta did not build with his own hands. But there is nothing in that bakery that the family did not pay for without the benefit of government assistance.
No one thinks that businesses exist in a bubble. Without infrastructure, education, other businesses, and customers, no business could survive. But the more important point, the one that the President missed, is that without small businesses government could not survive to provide infrastructure, education, and support for other businesses and potential customers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Letter to the Administration, From a Small Business Owner Who Did it Himself

A letter to the President, from a small business owner who did it on his own: 
So, this morning was a salient example of why my father [the owner of a small family bakery] dislikes this Administration, especially after this weekend's speech. 
While we were working on other things, our donut fryer caught fire (nothing serious, sort of). 
Apparently a bad welding job from a couple years ago caused shortening to drip into the heating jets, thereby causing a nice little self sustaining fire.   
Dad and I just kind of looked at each other with a "now what" expression.  Dad tried smothering it with towels, but after the towels nearly caught fire, he broke down and pulled out the fire extinguisher. 
At first, dad was resigned to the idea of scrapping every single donut for the day (which he had already cut out).  So not only would we lose all that labor, we'd essentially lose our entire day's profit, and that is not taking into account having to fix something we had already paid to fix. 
Where was the government?  Where were the roads, teachers, whatever that the President chided us about? 
The reality of the situation is, it is the small business owner that takes all the risk.  If it costs you nothing, or if there is absolutely no risk, can you really take credit for "helping" someone? 
My dad and I had to decide if we were going to try to re-light the fryer and basically pray it didn't flash over in my face while frying donuts.  That, or watch the entire day go straight to hell.   
*We* pay the price of failure, but the government loses nothing.  If we succeed, the government gets to take half.   
Why?  Because they built some damn roads with *our* tax money?  Because they hired some teachers I never saw, with *our* tax money?  The hell you say!  Where's the risk?  Where's the sacrifice?   
The government risks *nothing* because any and every investment they make *we* pay for. When Solyndra fails, no one in the government loses, The People do.  
The small businessman risks his savings, his house, his livelihood, his health, and sometimes his life, and when he actually succeeds (through hard work, massive hours, and pain) the government takes half or more after risking *nothing*. 
So yes, Mr. President, we did it on our own and you can basically screw off. 
p.s. we fried the donuts.  #customerservice

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Hancock/Brunner "Coincidence"

John Hancock. No, not that John Hancock. The John Hancock who spent 6 years as the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. The John Hancock who worked as a state legislator and was twice the GOP nominee for Missouri Secretary of State. Of course, today you probably know him better as 2012 Missouri Senate Candidate John Brunner.

Ever since Claire McCaskill defeated Jim Talent in the 2006 Missouri Senate race, the GOP has been searching for the right candidate to take that seat away from her in the 2012 election. They have had their pick of willing candidates over the last couple of years leading up to the election. Ed Martin, who barely lost his bid for Missouri’s 3rd District in a run against incumbent Russ Carnahan. Todd Akin, who succeeded Senator Talent in 2000 in Missouri’s 2nd District. Sarah Steelman, who served as a Missouri State Senator and State Treasurer.

So where does John Brunner/John Hancock fit in to all of this?
John Hancock’s most recent credentials place him at the head of the Missouri GOP. The national GOP is frustrated with Todd Akin, and for good reason: he occasionally refuses to toe the party line. When George W. Bush pushed for the passage of TARP, Akin opposed. Vocally. When the GOP pushed for the bipartisan passage of multiple CRs that would raise the debt ceiling and keep the government from shutting down, Akin voted only to protect troop funding and for CRs that including stipulations that would force spending cuts and balanced budget resolutions to be a part of the upcoming budget negotiations. In other words, most of the CRs Akin signed his name to would never get past either the Senate or the President.

The upshot is this: Akin is not a bipartisan legislation kind of guy. There is a reason that he has a 100% pro-life rating from the NRLC. There is a reason that he has the most conservative voting record in Congress. There is a reason that Akin is one of the few veteran legislators in the Congressional Tea Party Caucus. There is a reason, therefore, that anyone who believes that compromise in government is a good thing, might be irritated with Akin. There is a reason that those people might be concerned at the prospect of having a seasoned conservative with a spine in arguably the most crucial senate race of our generation.

John Brunner used to be one of Todd Akin’s biggest campaign donors. In fact, Brunner has donated to every Akin campaign since 1999. I suppose it’s just coincidence that the funding dried up practically just moments before Akin officially announced his Senate campaign. Even though rumors of a John Brunner Senate campaign were swirling before Akin formally announced… I suppose that could just be coincidence, but in my limited experience in politics, I have learned that “coincidence” is simply code for “two things I was hoping no one would notice were connected.”

Again, what does John Hancock have to do with this? John Brunner keeps telling Missouri that he is not a career politician. And he isn’t. But to defeat seasoned veterans like Akin and even Steelman (who is new to the national scene, but well acquainted with the process), he has certainly surrounded himself with the best team that money can buy. And in the months leading up to Brunner’s formal announcement in October 2011, John Hancock’s was the only voice Missouri heard. John Hancock promoted Brunner as a prospect. John Hancock talked about the benefits of Brunner’s business experience. John Hancock used his name to whet Missouri’s appetite for the regular guy who could bring common sense back to Missouri politics. Some local news outlets even joked that they expected Hancock to make the speech formally announcing Brunner’s candidacy, Brunner was so far removed from the process up to that point.

So why is it that Hancock kept Brunner away from the public until he officially announced his campaign? Was he afraid that if he let the “non-career politician” speak, he would say something regrettable? Was he afraid that Brunner might throw a fellow conservative activist under the bus while simultaneously trampling the First Amendment? Was he afraid Brunner might endanger the Sarah Palin endorsement he courted for months by degrading her in public? We may never know.

I’m sure it’s just coincidence.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

John Brunner, (Career) Politician

I had a kindergarten teacher who read the story of Clifford to the class. When talking about the story, she would always say, “Clifford, the BIG RED DOG.” It was as if she were physically incapable of saying the name Clifford without immediately following it with the modifier “BIG RED DOG.” Even at age five, I found it quite irritating. I didn’t understand her compulsive need to tell us over and over again something we all already knew.

In the same way, it seems that Missouri Senate Candidate John Brunner has a pathological need to remind people that he is “not a career politician” every time he opens his mouth. Anyone who lives in Missouri and even vaguely follows state and national politics is well aware that Mr. Brunner has never held public office. To some, that is one of his most attractive qualities. But having taken an interest in this particular campaign, I have found that in his race no one on the trail has acted more like a career politician (despite his factual claim to the contrary) than John Brunner.

For a few primary debates and appearances, Brunner was the only one of the three major primary candidates who hired a professional stylist and makeup artist. His speech patterns have even changed since his first radio ads ran months ago, moving from a rural Missourah feel to a more polished presentation. (Although whoever Brunner’s handlers are may want to note that in his most recent ad he did say “exspecially,” so obviously there is still some work to be done…)

Several months ago, his Democrat opponent, sitting MO Senator Claire McCaskill, attacked a St. Louis Tea Party activist with a twisted and factually inaccurate narrative. Within hours of the story breaking, Brunner’s campaign had jumped into the fray, siding with McCaskill.

When it was uncovered that Brunner’s company, Vi-Jonn, had failed to pay property taxes on a privately owned aircraft (which, ironically, is exactly what Senator McCaskill has been in hot water over), the Brunner campaign swiftly blamed an accountant for failing to file the proper paperwork. While that is completely understandable and the taxes and penalties were paid, Brunner’s response to questions asked on the Dave Glover Show were quite telling. “It’s regrettable, but I’m not attacking anyone about taxes. That’s not what’s important to Missourians. Jobs are what’s important.” Or, in simpler terms, “What I did isn’t important because it was someone else’s fault and I want to change the subject.”

In Brunner’s most recent ad, besides the grammatically disturbing “expecially,” he has referred to opponent Claire McCaskill as “the deciding vote” in the passage of Obamacare. It is true that she voted for the abomination. It is also true that if she had not voted for Obamacare, a Republican filibuster would have been a near certainty. However, to call Senator McCaskill “the” deciding vote is at best disingenuous, and here’s why: McCaskill’s vote was never in question. In 2010, according to a CongressionalQuarterly analysis, Claire McCaskill voted with President Obama (even when it meant going against party) 98% of the time. To suggest that there was a possibility that she would have voted against Obamacare is nearing ludicrous. In addition, any one of the sixty senators who voted for Obamacare (some of whom were far more likely to flip) could have been considered the deciding vote in terms of preventing the filibuster.

So despite the fact that Brunner truthfully claims that he is not a “career politician,” it is clear that he absolutely is a politican. And it is also clear that he is not above misdirection, siding with progressives, and embellishing the truth in order to become a career politician.