Archive for April 2008
Governor Matt Blunt’s former Communications Director Spence Jackson is taking a position with State Treasurer Sarah Steelman’s gubernatorial campaign.
Jackson begins his new duties as Communications Director tomorrow.
The 37-year-old Jackson is a native of Springfield. He previously served as Field Director in Senator Kit Bond’s 1998 re-election campaign and as Communications Director for Matt Blunt’s campaigns for Secretary of State in 2000 and Governor in 2004.
Jackson became Communications Director when Blunt was Secretary of State and held the Communications post in the Governor’s office when Blunt was sworn-in as Governor in 2005. In October of 2006, Jackson was named Deputy Director-Communications and Community Outreach with the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
– Steve Walsh
Westminster College in Fulton has welcomed some big names over the years … starting with Sir Winston Churchill who delivered what is arguably one of the best known speeches heard in this country. Its official name was the Sinews of Peace Address … but it has become known in the United States and around the world as the Iron Curtain Speech, which was delivered on March 5th, 1946.
President Harry Truman was there that day. He was the first of a long line of VIP to grace the Fulton campus. Those names include Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford. Vice President Dick Cheney has spoken at Westminster … as has Senator John Kerry. Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher have spoken there, as well.
Another British P.M. visits Westminster next Tuesday, May 6th, when Sir John Major takes a tour of the Churchill Museum and interacts with a Westminster College history class.
Major’s visit will be brief … as he’ll head to St. Louis later in the day to receive the Churchill medal from the Board of Governors of The Churchill Memorial at a reception and dinner in St. Louis.
– Steve Walsh
The Missourinet and other newsrooms across the state and country are deluged with e-mails – especially during political campaign years – telling us of the latest positives of certain candidates … or the latest negatives of others. Most of these e-mails, while self-serving, are interesting and informative.
We also receive e-mails from people we assume to be concerned citizens wanting their take on a given issue to be embraced, or at least considered, by the media. That’s great, too, as the media must be aware of what is on the minds of our listeners, viewers, or readers.
Occasionally, though, we get an e-mail from one of those "concerned citizens" … and it is followed a short time later by a separate e-mail … from another "concerned citizen." What is amazingly mind-boggling is how two people – ostensibly in different parts of the state, country, or even the world – send identical or near identical e-mails. Such was the case with a pair of e-mails received by the Missourinet on the heels the latest comments of Reverend Jeremiah Wright – Barack Obama’s former pastor.
Take a look … I’ll wait … Download obama_and_reverend_wright2.txt
Okay … let’s continue. This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened. In the days of cost-free e-mail communication this is almost routine. A couple of questions: Does the fact that two or more people send identical or near identical e-mails diminish from the message? Do recipients (media or elected officials) simply dismiss these e-mails? What has more impact – a unique comment or one that is signed by dozens or hundreds or even thousands of people who add their names to what amounts to little more than a form letter?
To be fair … it is possible that people in different parts of the state, country, or world could be communicating telepathically and somehow turn out the same message – word for word. Of course, there’s probably a greater chance of two Sea World dolphins colliding in mid-air … with one of the dolphins being killed in the mishap.
– Steve Walsh
As the 2008 political season moves on … we hear more and more about this group or that group … this candidate or that candidate … calling on someone to denounce somebody else. Occasionally we get more than a call to denounce … we get a call to return campaign contributions donated by a group or individual.
The Missourinet and other news organizations routinely receive these "calls to denounce" from the spin machines set up by the political parties or their surrogates. A recent e-mail I received from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee took offense with an ad being run by the North Carolina Republican Party. The DSCC e-mail sends a message that targets U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) with the caption: "North Carolina deserves better than gutter politics. Tell Senator Dole to stop the offensive ad or return the state party’s money."
This DSCC e-mail was only the latest in a long series of "calls to denounce" from both Democratic and Republican operatives. So, I decided to Google these "calls to denounce" and chanced upon "Who Will Denounce the Denouncers?" – a piece written by Jazz Shaw for The Moderate Voice. He invites readers to Google the phrase "Will McCain denounce" and we find McCain is being called on to denounce such people as Rush Limbaugh, Floyd Brown, and Rod Parsley.
Shaw points out that Hillary Clinton is expected to denounce such individuals as Ed Rendell and Mick Jagger.
Barack Obama isn’t out of the woods, either, as Shaw indicates Obama is asked to denounce Louis Farrakhan and Ed Schultz.
These "calls for denunciation" come from all over the political spectrum – left and right – and from candidates, parties, publications, and blogs.
And, if you choose to Google further you will learn that this goes beyond the targeting of politicians. We find an example of union workers calling on SEIU activists to denounce the manner in which a union election is being held.
Even the Canadians are part of the "denunciation dance." In September, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was called on to "denounce Israeli apartheid."
With a little more than six months to go before Election Day … we will no doubt be treated to dozens, scores, maybe even hundreds of additional calls from candidates, parties, and special interest groups wanting candidates to denounce the words or actions of others.
At what point does the "call to denounce" lose its impact? Certainly, anyone in the public arena who utters certain comments is fair game for the media, political parties, special interest groups, and so on … But at what point does guilt by association become too much of a stretch … even for the True Believers?
Well … time to get back to reading my e-mail. As a reporter I must try to keep track of the latest target of those calling on politicians to put on a pair of dancing shoes and join the "denunciation dance."
– Steve Walsh
There is no putting the toothpaste back in the tube. Not only must each political party and candidate have a web presence … those websites must be kept up to date.
While the Missourinet and other newsrooms across the state and the country still get a lot of information from phone calls and from press releases that are placed in mailboxes, faxed, and sent via e-mail … there is usually a need for the recipient of the info to find out more. That information must be available on political websites.
The Constitution Party’s website offers a great example of a political site NOT being updated in a timely manner. I found this example on Sunday while engaged in my morning routine of reading stories from newspapers, radio & TV, and blogs.
Steve Kraske’s piece in the Kansas City Star’s Prime Buzz tells of the Constitution Party National Convention in Kansas City … and the party faithful’s decision to choose Chuck Baldwin over Alan Keyes as the Constitution Party’s 2008 presidential candidate. (In case you were not aware, Keyes – a former Republican presidential hopeful – severed ties with the GOP earlier this month.)
Wanting to learn more about the Constitution Party’s selection of its presidential flag-bearer, I journeyed to the party’s web page. Lo and behold … (as of Sunday, April 27th, at 9:30amCT) … the "Latest News and Commentary" box encouraged supporters to travel to Kansas City the weekend of April 23-26 for the 2008 National Presidential Nominating Convention. One could even find a link to an online registration form. Not a word about what had happened in Kansas City!
Unlike the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian Parties … which are considered established parties … the Constitution Party does not enjoy automatic ballot access in Missouri. Backers of Chuck Baldwin and the Constitution Party will have to collect a sufficient number of valid signatures and present them to the Secretary of State’s Office. If that happens Missourians will have the chance to vote for Chuck Baldwin in November.
But if it does happen … and Baldwin does end up on Missouri’s November ballot … voters probably should not count on learning about it by going to the Constitution Party’s website.
– Steve Walsh
"You call it corn … we call it maize."
Ah … the end of another week in the metropolis of Jefferson … and, if you’ll forgive the trip back in time and the borrowing of the line above from a favorite commercial from my childhood, let’s return to the present and say it’s been a very interesting week in the ongoing discussion of whether ethanol should be given greater consideration as an alternative fuel.
The week began with a study conducted by the economic consulting firm LECG and paid for by the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council. It showed there are big economic benefits in Missouri to the mandate that requires each gallon of gasoline to contain a 10 percent ethanol blend.
The next day at the State Capitol, a House hearing was held on HB 2536 – legislation to repeal the E-10 requirement. That bill, which is awaiting further action, is sponsored by Representative Mike Dethrow (R-Alton) who voted for the E-10 mandate but now believes his support was a mistake. He says he’s heard from constituents expressing concerns about reduced gas mileage as a result of the ethanol blend.
Other opponents of the E-10 mandate have gone so far as to say the greater demand for ethanol is driving up the price of feed for livestock. And that results in higher costs to consumers when they buy food.
Today the Missouri Corn Growers sent out the organization’s weekly e-mail newsletter StalkTalk … with a link to a Texas study showing oil prices are to blame for higher food costs.
It’s hard to tell what’s right and what’s wrong. Maybe it’s not black and white, after all. Perhaps there’s quite a bit of gray. But there is no doubt that while legislative efforts to change the E-10 mandate are not likely to go anywhere this year, the debate over ethanol is far from over and we’ll be hearing a lot more from both supporters and opponents in the weeks, months, and years to come.
– Steve Walsh
In my effort to keep this week’s blogs controversy free … I just might have inadvertently stumbled onto the most controversial subject that one dares bring up in any workplace in America – Do you or do you not watch what is arguably one of the most popular if not THE most popular show on TV?
It happened as I sauntered from the Missourinet newsroom into the newsroom of the Brownfield Agriculture Network – another member of the Learfield Communications family. Brownfield’s Promotion Coordinator Kari McKinney asked me whether I thought David Archuleta is as good as so many people seem to think he is. I confessed I had no knowledge of this David Archuleta person. Kari then responded, in scolding tones, "American Idol!!!"
She saw that I was speechless and took advantage of that to hit me again – figuratively, of course. This time she asked what I thought about a guy named David Cook who is a resident of Blue Springs. Again, I had little to offer … giving Kari yet another opportunity to pounce. Said young Kari to this cynical, yet fun-loving, news guy: "American Idol!!! … David Cook turned a Mariah Carey pop-slow song into a rock ballad! HELLO!!!"
Not accustomed to being snapped at over such trivialities … and being the introvert that I am … I immediately recoiled and went into my shell. Okay, the part about being an introvert and going into my shell is not quite accurate … but it’s true that I’m not used to being snapped at.
Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to use this experience to walk the halls of Learfield to find out whether I’m the only person in the country who doesn’t watch American Idol … or whether it might be a generational thing … or something else. I learned quickly – to my relief – that I’m not the only person who doesn’t care about American Idol. I also learned that while some of the younger Learfield folks don’t watch the show … some of the older folks love it and can’t get enough of it.
Granted … this is a very unscientific poll … but I was able to learn it is not just young people tuned into what passes for entertainment these days. Just kidding! I’m sure it’s a great show and I will do my utmost, at Kari’s urging, to try to encourage my Missourinet colleagues Bob Priddy and Brent Martin to tune in next week. As for me … I’m going to have to make some tough choices next Tuesday and Wednesday. Do I watch the Cardinals hosting Cincinnati or the Royals playing Texas?
– Steve Walsh