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Tags: Missouri

Is This Guy America’s Most Arrogant State Lawmaker?



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Also in today’s Jolt:

A Strong Nominee for the Title of America’s Most Arrogant State Lawmaker

Sure, some of the complaints about Common Core can get overwrought. But Common Core advocates have dismissed parents’ concerns with stunning contempt and arrogance. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sneering about “white suburban moms” was bad enough, but now Duane Lester brings our attention to an even more astounding act of lawmaker condescension and disdain:

[The Missouri] House Appropriations – Education Committee Chairman Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, found $8 to address a pressing problem. The money is to be used “for two rolls of high density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology.”

On the summary sheet handed out to lawmakers, the money is slated for “tin foil hats” and was tied to an amendment removing language barring the state from accepting federal grants to implement Common Core standards for public schools.

“If you can’t deal with folks with logic, you use humor,” he said. “This is to stop all the problems from the black helicopters and drones. This is high density foil.”

Take your tin foil and stick it where the sun don’t shine, Chairman Lair.

There are a lot of objections to Common Core, coming from a lot more corners than the conspiracy theorists. If you don’t like Glenn Beck, there’s plenty of Republican state lawmakers. If they’re too righty for you, there’s skepticism and complaints from the NEA, liberal education-reform groups, teacher complaints about the lesson plans, parents of every political stripe . . . Even if you’re a big fan of Common Core, you have to recognize that arrogant dismissal and mockery like Lair’s actions do nothing to reassure skeptical parents and teachers.

Duane helpfully provides a last detail:

UPDATE: James Harris, a family member and supporter of Lair writes in:

Regrettably, his attempt of a joke has spun out of control on social media by some who thought he meant to criticize them, which is not want he meant.

Yesterday, my father in law, Rep. Mike Lair inserted a line item into the Education Appropriations bill for tin foil hats as a humorous statement on a fellow lawmaker’s bill. Rep. Kurt Bahr sponsored HB1490, which would prohibit schools from adopting any Common Core standards and, further, would require the General Assembly to approve any statewide education standards.

Members of the House took it in the spirit it was meant; as something to inject levity into a conversation which has gone past the point of logic and veered well into assumption. It was in that spirit that other members of the House jokingly wrapped his desk in tin foil.

This is true; Abram Messer, executive director of Missouri Family Network, Tweeted out a photo of the tin-foil-wrapped desk.

Harris continues:

Mike had been a history teacher and always has used humor to get people to focus and get to the root of an issue.

Mike has attempted to deal with this issue using logic and research, filing HB1157 (which would protect data gathered from Common Core, ensuring student data would be secure) and HB1158 (which would prevent DESE from mandating curriculum or textbooks at the local level, ensuring local school boards’ power is not infringed upon) to address the two main concerns with Common Core in a logical, pragmatic manner.

Mike supports vouchers, Right to Work, numerous tax cut measures, sponsored 2nd Amendment measures and every tort/civil liability effort. He is consistently ranked as one of the most conservative members.

I understand that you were not in Missouri and did not speak with Mike, so I believe calling him arrogant is inappropriate. Mike is conservative and merely trying to get people to laugh so they could get back to the discussion.

There’s a very simple way to ensure that no one thinks you’ve compared Common Core opponents to tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists: Don’t insert language for “two rolls of high-density aluminum to create headgear designed to deflect drone and/or black helicopter mind reading and control technology” to an amendment restricting Common Core in your education-funding proposal.

Tags: Common Core , Missouri

No Primary for Missouri’s Special U.S. House Election



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Meanwhile, down in Missouri, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced she would resign her seat in February to become president and CEO of the the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The replacement will be selected in a special House election, but each party’s nominee will be selected by the local party committees: “The Republican nominee will be selected by a committee of 82 GOP officials from southeastern Missouri. The Democratic nominee and any third-party candidates will be selected in a similar way under Missouri’s rules for replacing federal lawmakers who quit before their terms are over.”

Eddy Justice,  the chairman of the Republicans’ 8th Congressional District Committee, issued a statement via e-mail:

“In the upcoming months, the 8th Congressional Republican Committee will nominate a candidate to fill the Congressional Seat in Missouri’s 8th District. To this point, there have been a number of qualified individuals that have expressed interest in receiving that nomination. I have been made aware that there has also been some question about whether I would seek that position. The truth of the matter is that I do not have any interest at this time to seek this seat. As chairman of this committee, my desire is that the process we use to determine the nominee be smooth, fair and transparent. This is my focus and I will do everything in my power to make it happen.”

Erin Ragan of The Southeast Missourian complied the extensive list of local officials expressing interest in the seat:

Past challengers and Republicans in offices small and large floated their names as replacements for Emerson on Monday. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Cape Girardeau native, expressed interest, as did Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, whose last bid for office was an attempt at a U.S. Senate seat earlier this year.

State representatives Jason Smith, of Salem, Mo., along with Todd Richardson of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Kevin Engler of Farmington, Mo., also floated their names.

Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy was mentioned as a candidate. Cape Girardeau County Associate Circuit Judge Scott Lipke said he’s going to consider putting his name up for nomination, but that he’s not ready to make that decision yet. He’ll need time to pray and consult with family, he said. Late Monday, current state Rep. Wayne Wallingford, who was elected in the August primary to succeed state Sen. Jason Crowell, said he is considering seeking the nomination.

(As many folks on the Right now, Cape Girardeau is Rush Limbaugh’s childhood hometown.)

Whoever is named the GOP nominee will have a good shot of winning the special election and representing the district for a long while. The district scores an R+15 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index and Emerson won with more than 71 percent in 2012.

Tags: Jo Ann Emerson , Missouri , Special Elections

For Those Wondering About Missouri Write-in Bids . . .



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For Republicans who find the rambling, excuse-making, increasingly incoherent Todd Akin unacceptable as a Senate candidate, here are the rules on a write-in bid:

“write-in candidate” is a person:

whose name is not printed on the ballot (see 115.453(4,5,6) RSMo); and who has filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for election to office with the proper election authority prior to 5:00 p.m. on the second Friday immediately preceding the election day. It is not necessary to file a declaration of intent if there are no candidates on the ballot for that office. (see 115.453 (4) RSMo)

Frequently asked questions on write-in candidates

Can a write-in candidate be on a primary election ballot?

No. (Section 115.453 (5) RSMo)

If a candidate runs in a primary election and loses, can the person run in the general election for the same office?

No. If a candidate files for nomination to an office and is not nominated at a primary election, that candidate cannot file a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for the same office at the general election. (Section 115.453(4) RSMo)

Are write-in candidates posted at the polling place?

No. The election authority shall furnish a list to the election judges and counting teams prior to Election Day of all write-in candidates who have filed a declaration of intent. (Section 115.453(4) RSMo)

Are write-in votes counted for every name that is written in?

No. If a candidate is on the ballot for an office, write-in votes are counted only for the candidates who have filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate with the proper election authority. (Section 115.453(4), first sentence) If no candidate is on the ballot for an office, it is not required to file a declaration of intent and votes are counted for every name properly written in. (Section 115.453(4) RSMo, last sentence)

So Sarah Steelman and John Brunner, who lost the GOP Senate primary, are not eligible to run as write-in candidates.

Of course, for a write-in bid to succeed, one would need ideally a simple name, one that is not easily misspelled, since we know election lawyers will attempt to disqualify any ballot that is unclear in any way.

If only some figure, well known to Missouri voters and trusted by them, would step forward and declare, “The name’s Bond . . . Kit Bond.”

Tags: Claire McCaskill , Missouri , Todd Akin

A Splitting Head-Akin



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From this morning’s edition of the Jolt:

A Splitting Head-Akin

Go watch the video of Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP candidate for Senate in Missouri, uttering his infamous comments. Go ahead.

The query is pretty straightforward: “What about in the case of rape? Should it [abortion] be legal or not?” This is not a “gotcha” question or some sort of poorly worded trap. Pro-lifers can feel confidence that we’ve seen polling numbers showing the public incrementally shifting to the pro-life cause, but rape, incest, and the life of the mother are usually three circumstances where the public wants abortion to remain legal. According to Gallup, 20 percent support the “illegal in all circumstances” position.

This isn’t to say no Republican Senate candidate should hold this position; only that they should know they hold an unpopular position and they need to be prepared to defend it in ways that reassure, rather than alienate, the other 80 percent.

Akin’s answer begins, “Well, you know, uh, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, ‘Well, how do you – how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question.’”

So far, so good; Akin begins by suggesting a bit of humility.

“It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare.”

Perhaps Akin was thinking of the statistic of how small a percentage of abortions performed are the result of rape and incest. (Here’s a 2005 study by the Guttmacher Institute indicating that only 1 percent of women who had abortions said the reason was that “they had been victims of rape, and less than half a percent said they became pregnant as a result of incest.”) The problem is he didn’t say that; instead he indicated that rape-related pregnancies are “really rare.”

About 31,000 pregnancies are the result of rape in America every year. That’s a small fraction of the 6 million pregnancies nationwide, but . . . that’s still an ungodly number and a number few would call “really rare.” And whether Akin intended it or not, the term “rare” is going to be interpreted by a lot of voters, particularly women, as dismissing it.

And then Akin really gets himself in trouble: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

I have no idea what Akin meant by the term “legitimate rape,” and I don’t care to try to translate that.

As for the notion that women’s bodies can somehow subconsciously interrupt their fertility during a rape experience . . . well, no.

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, writing at CNN:

The body doesn’t differentiate between “legitimate” rape and “illegitimate” rape — whatever that is. The body doesn’t know whether the rapist is known to a victim. The body doesn’t know if a knife or a gun, or alcohol or drugs (or any combination of them), were used.

Every sexual encounter does not lead to pregnancy, but every sexual encounter leads to the possibility of pregnancy. Period.

Now, researchers are always looking to see if there are other indicators of a woman’s peak fertility, and thus you’ll see light-hearted news stories that men are more attracted to dancing women when they’re most fertile, and so on. So while a woman may be more or less fertile at any given time because of a lot of factors, there’s no research indicating that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin wraps up his awful statement, “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Look at that phrasing: “that didn’t work” “Ways to shut that whole thing down” – he sounds like he’s discussing an assembly-line safety mechanism or something. The moment the word “rape” enters the conversation, everyone’s blood runs cold and women are involuntarily forced to momentarily contemplate one of the worst things that could ever happen to them. This is why some people flipped out when CNN anchor Bernard Shaw asked Michael Dukakis, “If Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” in a 1988 presidential debate, and even more voters recoiled from Dukakis when he offered an antiseptic policy answer. (Watch the exchange, even more breathtaking 24 years later; Dukakis doesn’t even flinch, recoil, or blink when Shaw asks that question.) Akin suggests that rape victims don’t really need abortions, because he believes in  their bodies’ “ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

This is a candidate who is astronomically ill-informed, and epically unprepared for the difficulty of the general-election campaign ahead.

So in this circumstance, frustrated conservatives can cite the dumb comments of Joe Biden, Juanita Broaddrick’s accusations against Bill Clinton, Whoopi Goldberg’s claim that Roman Polanski’s acts weren’t really “rape-rape,” and a million examples of mainstream media bias and hypocrisy, but it doesn’t change the facts: Republicans have a candidate in Missouri that a lot of voters, particularly women, are going to recoil from once these comments get blasted full-force by a well-funded Claire McCaskill campaign.

Here’s Akin’s exchange with Hannity Monday afternoon transcribed by the folks at RealClearPolitics:

“As a political observer I see it differently here. I think for the next week all you’re going to hear from Democrats is your comments. And, look, I’m a Christian so I believe in forgiveness. And I can just tell by the sound of your voice that you’re very sincere in your apology. But I also — I think there is one political reality that I think has to be faced by you and your campaign and that is that you know, the reality here is that Democrats now have a ton of ammunition and they are now going to try to use these remarks to hurt everybody they can. And if I was put in that position, I would at least be thinking about what is in the best interest of the party. hat is in the best interest of, you know, Mitt Romney in this case. What is in the best interest of the people of Missouri, are they going to be able to hear a campaign about issues or is this going to be the distraction of the campaign. Are you — you’re not even considering that?” Hannity asked.

“Those are all legitimate points, Sean, and you know I’m trained as an engineer and you look at both sides of the equation and you say, ‘You know, what are the pros and the cons?’ On the other side, here you have somebody who is a conservative, unabashed pro-lifer where as Claire McCaskill is the exact opposite. And you got a real contrast and a simple choice for the people of the state of Missouri. And I think that strong voting record and that record that is the exact opposite of hers — the question is, does that overcome, you know, the question of people that are upset over one word spoken in one day in one sentence. And I think that there is an awful of people that believe in mercy and forgiveness and God’s love. I made a single error in one sentence,” Akin said.

“But I think that the people of Missouri are big enough to take a look at the whole package and say, ‘Hey, this Obama is about to break our country and Claire McCaskill is a rubber stamp for him and so we need somebody who is going to take the fight to them. And I believe that we’re going to do that,” Akin added.

This morning, Akin released an ad featuring an apology:

“Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them,” Akin says. “The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims.”

Akin continues: “The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”

Tags: Claire McCaskill , Missouri , Todd Akin

Low Turnout? In Non-Binding Contests? Inconceivable!



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So, how are Missouri Republicans greeting their chance to participate in a sort-of-hotly-contested primary that will determine exactly no delegates today? Turnout is “very low, much lower than expected.”

The Missouri presidential primary winner won’t receive any delegates, and that’s resulting in low voter turnout.

In most precincts in southeast Missouri, the presidential primary is the only vote on the ballot, leaving many voters at home.

“It’s disappointing,” said Cape Girardeau County Clerk Kara Clark Summers. “We put a lot of time into the election, and not to mention a lot of money.  We’d really like to see voters turn out because it’s a good indicator of who could win the caucuses next month.”

Polls are open until 7 p.m. local time.

Perhaps Colorado turnout will be higher . . . oh, wait:

Residents of Denver and a wide swath of nearby cities and towns awoke to find another several inches of snow, frigid temperatures and hazardous driving conditions on Tuesday, worrying local Republican leaders who fear the weather may dampen voter turnout at tonight’s Colorado caucuses.

Tags: Colorado , Missouri

Are You Ready for Some Non-Binding Action?



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Whoohoo! Non-binding caucuses! Non-binding primaries! Can you smell the excitement?!

Today in Colorado!

Tuesday 7 February 2012: Precinct Caucuses meet in each precinct to choose delegates to the County Assemblies and District Conventions.

There is no formal system applied in the Precinct Caucus to relate the presidential preference of the participants to the choice of the precinct’s delegates to the Colorado County Assemblies and District Conventions; however, a non-binding Presidential Preference poll of the delegates will be conducted. (NOTE: It is the District Conventions and the State Convention that will actually pledge Republican National Convention delegates to presidential contenders).

Since no National Convention delegates are bound to Presidential contenders, the Precinct Caucuses do not violate the RNC’s Tuesday 6 March 2012 timing rule.

Today in Minnesota!

Tuesday 7 February 2012: Republican Party Precinct Caucuses meet to choose the precinct’s delegates to the BPOU [="Basic Political Organization Unit" (the next higher tier: County, State Senate District or State House District)] Convention. There will also be a non-binding straw poll re: Presidential Preference held in coordination with these Precinct Caucuses. (NOTE: It is the later Congressional District and State Conventions that will actually elect Republican National Convention delegates).

There is no formal system applied in the Precinct Caucuses to relate the presidential preference of the Caucus participants to the choice of the precinct’s delegates to the Republican Convention of the BPOU [which may be a County, State Senate District or State House District] in which the precinct is located. The participants at each Precinct Caucus alone determine if presidential preference is to be a factor in such choice and, if so, how it is to be applied.

Today in Missouri!

Missouri Republican non-binding Primary. Today’s primary has no effect on delegate allocation.

Also note that today’s Missouri ballot will feature Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul . . . but no Newt Gingrich.

This is going to make for a pulse-pounding, dramatic wrap-up piece tomorrow morning!

Tags: Colorado , Minnesota , Missouri

Delegates at Stake Tomorrow: Zero. No, Really.



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The good folks at the Republican National Committee send along word about what is really at stake in tomorrow’s caucuses . . . which is . . . not that much:

To:       Political Reporters

From:  Sean Spicer, RNC Communications Directors

Subj:   Reporting on Delegates for Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri

For those of you covering the race for the GOP presidential nomination and writing about the current delegate count, please keep in mind that no delegates will be awarded tomorrow.

Colorado is a non-binding precinct caucus. Their 36 delegates will be chosen at district conventions held between March 31 – April 13, 2012, and at the state convention on April 14, 2012.

Minnesota is a non-binding precinct caucus. Their 40 delegates will be chosen at district conventions held between April 14 – 21, 2012, and at a state convention on May 5, 2012. Delegates are not bound unless the state convention passes a resolution to bind the delegates.

Missouri will hold a primary tomorrow that is not recognized as being a part of any delegate allocation or selection process. A precinct caucus will be held on 3/17/2012 to begin the process of choosing their 52 delegates which will be chosen at district conventions on April 21, 2012, and a state convention on June 2, 2012. Candidates for delegate must state a presidential preference at the time of nomination and will be bound to support that candidate for one ballot at the national convention.

Right now, Mitt Romney has 73 delegates, Newt Gingrich has 29, Ron Paul has 8, and Rick Santorum has 3. Another 30 are currently unbound.

(Remember, Iowa awards its delegates based on the results of the state convention.)

Tags: Colorado , Minnesota , Missouri , RNC

The First Reactions to the Exits, if Not the Exits Themselves



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I don’t have the exits, but folks I know in the media and political worlds are getting their first glimpses.

Indicator Number One: I am told that one Democratic strategist, helping a television network with Election Night analysis, just declared that the Democrats were experiencing something on par with mass murder. The GOP counterpart looked at the same numbers and concluded the Democrats are, so far, not getting the urban turnout they need; suburban and rural areas are seeing big turnouts.

Indicator Number Two: One Republican who is seeing early indicators in Florida says, “If this holds, we win everything.”

UPDATE: Huffington Post has the first wave of exit polls

Leaked exit polls for key Senate races now spreading like wildfire among politicos:

Blumenthal (D-CT) +8Rubio (R-FL) +21Blunt (R-MO) +10Boxer (D-CA) +8Kirk (R-IL) +6 Paul (R-KY) +11, NV–EVENBennet (D-CO) +2Toomey (R-PA) +4Murray (D-WA) +6Manchin (D-WV) +7Johnson (R-WI) +5

More (confirmed) exit poll data from the AP:

WASHINGTON – Voters were intensely worried about the future of the economy Tuesday and unhappy with the way President Barack Obama and Congress have been running things. They didn’t hold a favorable view of either the Republican or Democratic parties, according to an Associated Press analysis of preliminary exit poll results and pre-election polls. Overwhelmingly, people at the polls were dissatisfied with the way the federal government is working, and a fourth said they’re angry about it.

I would warn Republicans not to panic about these. Remember 2004.

Indicator Number Three: One Republican watching Missouri indicators closely says Robin Carnahan’s “weak performance as a candidate hurt the democratic party down ballot.”

Tags: Exit Polls , Florida , Missouri

Fox News Sues Carnahan over Ad



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This should be fun:

Fox News Network has field a lawsuit against Democratic Senate hopeful Robin Carnahan over use of station footage in an ad attacking her Republican rival.

Carnahan’s commercial features a 2006 interview by Fox anchor Chris Wallace with Roy Blunt. At the time, Blunt’s bid to become House Majority Leader was taking criticism because of his ties to lobbyists — connections Wallace was showcasing to viewers.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Kansas City federal court says the “smear ad” infringes on a Fox News copyright, improperly misappropriates Wallace’s likeness, and created a false impression that Wallace had endorsed Carnahan.

“The Carnahan Ad is designed to make it appear as if Wallace – a trusted journalist – is instead speaking as a campaign operative,” the suit says.

From Carnahan’s campaign website: “The interview with Roy Blunt that Fox News doesn’t want you to see has been temporarily removed. Check back soon.”

Tags: Missouri

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