Archive for August 2009
We've seen (and heard) quite a bit regarding those health care town halls being held throughout the state and the country during the congressional August recess. Now Senator "Kit" Bond, who has spent a portion of this congressional break out of the country on national security business, will hold a meeting of his own. But it's not open to the public – It's for the people involved in the providing and delivery of health care services.
Our senior U.S. Senator will host the meeting Monday morning at 10:30 at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City … speaking to doctors, nurses, medical and hospital officials, and owners of small businesses to get their feedback on the proposals making their way through Congress in Washington.
The Senator will be joined by a couple of his U.S. Senate colleagues – Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senator John McCain of Arizona, who carried Missouri for the Republicans during the 2008 presidential election.
Our junior Senator – Claire McCaskill – has two public town hall meetings scheduled for Monday … one in West Plains and the other in Springfield.
– Steve Walsh
Senator Claire McCaskill's health care town hall tour of the state takes a break until Monday when she appears in West Plains and Springfield. Missourinet colleague Brent Martin and I attended Wednesday's forum in Jefferson City. Brent chatted with several of the people attending the event, focusing on one who would like to see a little less acrimony at these meetings. He shares that person's views.
Boisterous, rowdy, perhaps a bit disrespectful at times – Wednesday's Jefferson City health care forum still managed to stay under control as Senator Claire McCaskill acknowledged the passion and even anger of opponents of President Obama’s health care legislation.
McCaskill kept calm, though stern, with some of the more vocal opponents during the hour-long forum held in the cafeteria of the Lewis and Clark Middle School on the east side of Jefferson City.
Both proponents and opponents of the health care plans being debated in Congress showed up for the forum, too many for the cafeteria to accommodate. The Jefferson City Fire Marshal limited the crowd to 400 and that included reporters and the Senator’s staff. No exact numbers were taken, but it appeared that about 100 were turned away.
Those who entered Lewis and Clark Middle School were greeted by Geraldean McMillin of Jefferson City who held a sign that read, "Loving Words + Loving Hearts = Peace." McMillin told us that she has an opinion on health care, but didn’t care to share it. She said she was more interested in reminding participants to be respectful and debate with decorum.
Not everyone heeded the words on McMillin’s poster, but some likely did, as she attempted to remind citizens that ideas can be exchanged and disagreements aired without put downs and insults.
Listen to what Geraldean has to say …
Download Geraldean (1:19 MP3)
– Brent Martin
Just about anyone who follows Missouri politics is, by now, aware that State Senator Jeff Smith and State Representative Steve Brown have resigned from the General Assembly after pleading guilty to charges stemming from Smith's 2004 congressional race.
Truth be told, it is a tough time for these two former lawmakers and we can only wish them well as they deal with their legal problems. But while it is not the intention of anyone here to "pile on," there is something a tad ironic – if not downright humorous – found in the transcript of the document outlining the allegations against the two.
People who know Jeff Smith know he, like many liberals, has a visceral hatred of Wal-Mart. Yet, he had no problem suggesting throw-away cell phones be purchased at Wal-Mart.
Credit where credit is due – Chad Garrison with The Riverfront Times in St. Louis picked this up and it's good for a laugh:
As I reported this morning one of the many subplots in the criminal case assembled against the former state senator and members of his 2004 congressional campaign was their use of throw-away cellphones to corroborate the lies they told investigators.
Particularly intriguing was this little back-and-forth between Smith and Nick Adams, his former deputy campaign manager.
Adams: Can we get some of those pay as you go cell phones like on The Wire? Smith: Buy three of them at Wal-Mart and meet tomorrow to pass them out.
No comment really necessary.
– Steve Walsh
Missouri's U.S. Senators have offered their condolences on the death of Senator Ted Kennedy.
A statement from Senator "Kit" Bond praised Kennedy for the work he did on Capitol Hill:
"The State of Massachusetts and the nation have lost an outstanding Senator. For more than 40 years Ted has used his position in the Senate to fight for working families in his home state and across the country. Senator Kennedy was not only known as a tremendous public servant, but also as a gentleman within the halls of Congress. He was a great ally when we worked together and friendly and courteous – yet formidable – when we disagreed."
Senator Claire McCaskill issued a statement, praising Kennedy's compromising abilities:
"This man was so much more than his image," McCaskill said. "While his vision soared, the power of his personality and the magnet of his intellect drew his colleagues to the table of compromise. It was there he did his best work. His love for the little guy and his affection for the underdog influenced everything he did. And importantly, his sense of humor and contagious laughter made him real and approachable in spite of his power and privilege."
Longtime Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton offered his thoughts, as well, in a statement:
"An important chapter in American history ended with the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. For decades, he was an inspiration to those privileged to know him and to work with him. Ted Kennedys’ unwavering commitment to the dignity of human life led him to speak out on behalf of those in need. My thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Vicki, his children, and the entire Kennedy family."
Kennedy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
– Steve Walsh
Supporters and opponents of the health care reform proposals being discussed on Capitol Hill in Washington are rallying the troops to get them out to Wednesday's Jefferson City town hall forum hosted by Senator Claire McCaskill.
I received my invitation from the Obama Administration … er … Organizing for America on Monday:
Steve — I wanted to send you an urgent invitation to an important town hall with Sen. Claire McCaskill this Wednesday, August 26th. She'll be talking to constituents and gathering feedback. Whether you ask a question or show your support with a sign, attending this town hall is a powerful way to show where you stand and thank those in Congress who are fighting for reform. I hope you can join us. Here are the details:
What: Town Hall with Sen. Claire McCaskill Where: Lewis and Clark Middle School [Cafeteria] 325 Lewis and Clark Drive Jefferson City, MO 65101.
When: Wednesday, August 26th Arrival Time: 3:30 p.m. Start Time: 4:30 p.m.
Please arrive as early as possible to the town hall, and make sure that the most powerful voices in this debate are those calling for real reform, not angrily clamoring for the status quo.
Missouri State Director
Organizing for America
P.S. — Before the event, please print off a flyer to display and make sure that your support is visible.
On Tuesday, I received my invitation from the Adam Smith Foundation:
The Adam Smith Foundation would like to encourage all who have concerns about the destructive health care legislation that will come before the House after the August recess to voice your concerns and ask your questions at Senator McCaskill’s Cole County "Health Care Listening Forum." She will be at the Lewis and Clark Middle School Cafeteria in Jefferson City on Wednesday, August 26th starting at 6:00 p.m., and we urge all concerned citizens to let her hear your voice.
"It is well-known that Senator McCaskill is one of President Obama’s most trusted advisors after her early endorsement of his campaign, and she is in one of the best positions to stop this reckless health care bill," said John Elliott, president of the Adam Smith Foundation. "Senator McCaskill works for Missouri voters, and we urge you to tell her what you think. The Democratic health care legislation will cost our nation far too much and threatens to degrade quality of care for everyone. Your best chance to mitigate the damage from this bill is to speak up and show your elected representatives that you want true reform, not needless government intervention."
Seating at the event will be limited and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.. In order to ensure adequate seating, the Senator’s official meeting announcement has requested that you register to attend on her website.
The time of the event has been moved from 4:00 … to 4:30 … and now to 6:00pm.
– Steve Walsh
Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond and several of his colleagues have responded to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder following his decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA officials who interrogated al Qaeda terrorists. Earlier this month, Bond and the other Senators sent Holder a letter expressing concern that an investigation would have a chilling effect on the work of the intelligence community. Now that Holder has decided to move forward, the Senators are writing again.
In part, the letter points to the history of special prosecutors:
"Moreover, history has shown that special prosecutors, who lack the accountability of career prosecutors to Justice Department management, often take an expansive view of their investigative authority. Thus, despite your assurances that this investigation will be narrow and focused, there is a real risk that today’s announcement portends a long, arduous, and unpredictable process for the intelligence community. By delegating the prosecutorial function to a largely unchecked special prosecutor, you are responsible for having set a course that may diminish our intelligence efforts, which fundamentally rely on forward-leaning responses to national security concerns."
The writers then make it clear they fear this might put Americans at risk:
"We fear that the true cost of this endeavor will ultimately be borne by the American people, who rely on the intelligence community, operating without distraction, to protect them from the many threats, known and unknown, that our country faces in this post-9/11 world."
Bond and the others say they did not receive any response from Holder following the first letter.
– Steve Walsh
Picture this – if you dare.
Tens of thousands of Missourians line the banks of the Missouri River from the mouth of the Osage River to Boonville, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of two underwater vessels taking part in the inaugural Tour of Missouri River submarine race. Dare to dream, my friends.
Now let us imagine that it happened this weekend … as crews from the USS Jefferson City and the USS Columbia tried to best each other as they navigated their way through the swirls, the murkiness, and the silt of the Big Muddy. And embrace, if you are willing to be so bold, the thought of Governor Jay Nixon standing atop the old Union Pacific railroad bridge in Boonville, frantically waving a checkered flag as the winning sub crossed the finish line.
If you allow yourself to accept the improbable you might even be able to hear one of the spectators, wearing a pea coat to keep warm on a cool August morning, praising Governor Nixon for being a part of the event – despite the Gov's injured left leg.
"He made us proud," the pea coat-clad man would say. "He never cared much for the Tour of Missouri bike race – that was that fella Pete Kinder's idea – but he sure took to the submarine race. And he climbed up on that old Katy bridge like Shaquille O'Neal climbing over the other players to get to the post-game food spread. He must really love submarines … or maybe it's the railroad bridge."
Okay … enough with the whimsy. I mean … How could you watch submarine races from the bank? The vessels are under the surface. Besides, do you really think a couple of big subs could navigate the Missouri River? But I digress. Let's get serious.
The USS Missouri Commissioning Committee staged its Jefferson City Submarine Ball, Saturday night, in honor of submarine veterans of World War II. It's part of the effort to raise money to add some amenities to the USS Missouri submarine, which is scheduled to be commissioned next year. Those amenities include such things as artwork and silverware. While the Pentagon pays for the sub and all the military features, it does not pay for the little extras that make the sub a home away from home for so many members of the Navy.
The evening featured several special guests, including Rebecca Gates, who serves at USS Missouri Sponsor. Her husband, Robert Gates, just happens to be the Defense Secretary. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer was there, as well, as part of the festivities. Events were held earlier in the day at the Capitol and elsewhere, with Congressman Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, taking part. Also in attendance at the events: crew members of the USS Jefferson City and the USS Columbia.
Sam Bushman, Chairman of the USS Missouri Commissioning Committee, insisted I point out this submarine will be the fifth in the U.S. fleet with the name "Missouri." The most famous is, of course, the fourth. That's the battleship on which the Japanese surrendered to end World War II. Sam is also the guy having fun telling people about a submarine race on … make that in … the Missouri River. For shame!
Anyway … to make a contribution to the USS Missouri commissioning you can contact Sam at email@example.com or at 573-634-7267.
– Steve Walsh