Friday, December 31, 2010

On the Brink of a New Year


Dear readers, I wish to take a few moments to wish everyone a happy new year. 2010 was very challenging, with a lot of twists and turns. Lots of surprises--who knew that Haiti and Chili would suffer earthquakes,and an oil well would blow out among other things?

Now some things we could see coming, like the health care bill passing, and the November election results.

Some things we hoped for did not come to pass, like a strong economic recovery and decreasing unemployment, but we have hopes for 2011.

2011 could be just a transition year to the big election in 2012, or it could be transformative, becoming a year to remember.

Locally, it may be a very important year, as Kansas City prepares to elect the leadership down at City Hall, and vote on the continuation of the Earnings Tax. Other items include improving public education, and working on infrastructure. Over every thing looms the issue of continuing violent crime, with a homicide rate far too high for a city this size.

So hang on, because 2011 is probably going to be a very interesting, perhaps occasionally scary ride!

Photo: Neat night view of Kansas City from something called "Crazy Vector."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Addiction, continued

This is a complex disease. It is resistant to treatment. It is subject to relapse.

Dr. Phil McGraw on addition

More later. The South Kansas City Observer extends condolences to the family of Ken Gurley and to the South Patrol officer forced to shoot him dead the morning of December 29th

This post had its genesis in the sad shooting death of one Kenny Gurley yesterday morning. Mr. Gurley was shot by a Kansas City Missouri police officer when he did not comply with orders to drop a length of metal pipe, and lunged at the officer. Here's the newspaper article on the incident. I posted the above, but ran out of time to flesh out the thoughts behind these few words.

Mr. Gurley, 40, per the testimony of his grieving mother to the press, has struggled with meth addiction for several years. He was approaching about one year of sobriety from the meth during this time. (It's funny, a friend who is about to have her one year of sobriety from alcohol was telling me about how she'd noticed that a lot of people get a little funky around that one year mark...) Neighbors had noticed a man matching Mr. Gurley's description acting oddly during the early morning, running around in the 40 degree temps without a shirt, punching the air. One neighbor noticed Mr. Gurley and another man looking into the windows of houses in the neighborhood. When they battered down the door to the empty home on 111th Terrace, they called 911.

Now, if I lent you my scanner for an hour, you would notice that these prowler calls are pretty common, and the police take them seriously. If they respond to an address, and find an open door, they will "hold the air" and carefully investigate until they know that there is no one there who is a threat to them or others. So it is with this care that the officers approached the house on 111th Terrace when they noted the open door. It didn't take long before they came across Mr. Gurley and another man as they came out the front door. Mr. Gurley had a length of pipe in his hand. He was commanded to drop the pipe. He did not drop the pipe. Per the KCPD, he threatened the officer, and he was shot twice, fatally.

The reason why I started this post with the quote from Dr. Phil was to make a note of his difficult addiction. Like I said in response to comments in the initial post, the will has a lot to do with the compulsive behavior of addiction. Using is a choice, not using is a choice, stopping is a choice and starting back up is a choice. How the addict can be helped to make the choice to stop and stay stopped is something that is up for debate. Despite anything you may have heard, no treatment modality has a 100% effectiveness/no relapse rate.

You can hear it in the anguish of his mother(KSHB video here), wishing there had been another way, wishing he had gotten back in treatment, wishing he hadn't have used again. I am sure the police officer wished there had been another way, but he wanted to go home at the end of his shift. There was a threat to that, and he had to respond as he had been trained to that threat. His response will be evaluated. I hope the Monday morning quarterbacking will be kept to a minimum, the evaluation fair and balanced.

I was noting this crime, one of several shootings over the past few days in Kansas City, because of the sad aspect of Mr. Gurley's losing battle with addition. It was not meant to be a debate over the causes of addiction per se or the best way to treat them. It was with the sadness that Mr. Gurley made the decision to use meth on Wednesday morning. That decision caused his premature death. His mother is sad at the permanent loss of hope for her son. The officer is sad he had to take a life and may be anxious for what it means for his law enforcement career. I am sad because, well, no man is an island. Mr. Gurley's death, along with the death of Sujendra Amarasingham, and Ivan Miller in November, and 100 plus other homicide victims in our city, should make us all sad. Then it should make us all mad, and ready to take action.

That is all, just a sadness at the waste of life, and a wondering if we can develop several good therapies for helping someone make the decision to stop using mind altering substances and take on life straight and sober, life the good the bad and the ugly.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Addiction

This is a complex disease. It is resistant to treatment. It is subject to relapse.

Dr. Phil McGraw on addition

More later. The South Kansas City Observer extends condolences to the family of Ken Gurley and to the South Patrol officer forced to shoot him dead the morning of December 29th.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Place and State that I NEVER Want to Find Myself In

Embedded in Roger Cohen's entertaining and often funny rant about Europe's inability to deal with the snowy weather that has come their way were these bon mots:
What we are witnessing on either side of the Channel is the double whammy of a debt-ridden public sector making cuts wherever it can and a bonus-addicted private sector making cuts wherever it’s profitable — with the resultant disaster foisted on a general public now so cowed and coddled and fearful and risk-averse in the age of terror and technology that an inch or two of snow sends everyone into a blind panic.
And then there was this, at the end of the piece that frequently made me LOL.
It’s the age of pass-the-buck, blame-anybody-but-yourself technology-induced, pasty-faced, initiative-starved helplessness in a Europe that’s forgotten what a shovel looks like.
I must admit, that made me stop laughing.

Now that is just a place I do not want to go, a place in which I do not want to live, and a mindset that I want nothing to do with. I want to live in a country where there are always people ready to take initiative and pick up the shovel.

I think I live in that kind of country. I think. I pray.

Back to the Grind

Well, you know it had to come to an end. The holiday period. Oh, we still have New Year's but that's different. Not everything will be closed on New Year's Day. Christmas is the day we come closest to shutting everything down.

So what awaits us?

Let's see there's (deep breath) the mayor and city council elections, the earnings tax debate, doing something about 103 homicides this year and counting...(breath)...the economy, lack of jobs, potential inflation, taxes, stimulus packages, global climate change, global economy, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq.

There are people telling us that the nation is being taken over by a oligarchy of corporate interests, by an oligarchy of the ruling classes, by the entitlement mentality, by the morally bankrupt, and that the nation is falling away, falling to third world status, falling like Rome, falling toward anarchy. There is outcry against any idea that America is exceptional in any way from one side; the other side says not so fast, we have survived tough things before.

The Progressive lefties thinks THEY are the only way to salvation.

The Libertarian wing thinks THEY are the only way to salvation.

The Conservative righties thinks THEY are the only way to salvation.

One group says all should be judged on merit, to rise or fall as their abilities dictate, lead, follow or get out of the way--the fallen should just get out of the way and rely on the kindness of strangers. Another group feels that all have a right to certain services and should not be allowed to fall by the wayside. Health care is the crucible issue here--is it a right, obtained with the help of the government, or something that is offered within the free market system in line with the ability to pay?

So, we've got a lot on our plate this coming year. Whew!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Well, How About That?

Mascot Scout rides again (Kansas City Star photo)

Our Kansas City Chiefs, winners of a measly four games last year, have won ten (yup, 1-0) games this year, and have won the AFC West Championship! This is a remarkable turnaround. The ten games is more than the team has won in the past three years.

This is a real tribute to the work put in by the players and coaches--the desire and dedication to improve in all areas of the game. Last year, for example, Head Coach Todd Haley tried also to run the offense. He conceded that it did not work, and the Chiefs obtained the services of Charley Weiss, a fine offensive coach. The Chiefs realized the defense needed both better coaching and players and hired a great defensive coach and drafted some excellent players.

The biggest improvement, not just over last year, but over the course of this year, is the quarterback, Matt Cassel. He has improved so much that it is almost incomprehensible. Given better coaching (they worked endlessly with him on mechanics, to drop back and release the ball quicker on passes) and better surrounding players, Cassel has just bloomed, making good reads and judgments, avoiding turnovers and becoming a leader of the whole team.

Second is the work of the defense. They have occasionally had a klunker of a game, but generally they have been more than adequate. Sometimes bending but not breaking, and sometimes not even bending, they have rose to the occasion many times during the season.

The metro is starting to get excited about the team again--I am seeing more Chiefs garb on folks--not new stuff but the stuff they had back in the 1990s and early 2000s when the team was good before. Now, folks just have to get back into the habit of going to the games--the stadium, while obviously loud and rowdy today, was not full. It has to be full for our home playoff game! (I can't believe I just wrote those words.)

Congratulations to the Chiefs players and staff for a job well done!

Friday, December 24, 2010

An Alert, and More Music!

Good Christmas Eve folks!

A traffic note--for southlanders especially! A city plow dropped hydraulic fluid all over Blue Ridge Boulevard from about Blue River Road to about the State Line. Thus this area will be slicker than snot for a few days. Pumper 45 and HazMat 71 are spreading oil dry and a street crew is on the way as of this writing, but I would be careful around that area for the next couple days!

In the meantime, have some more music.



Merry Christmas everyone!

Some Christmas Music

Well, Christmas is almost here--here in the Midwest it is just after midnight on December 24th.

Here's a bit of Christmas music for you all this Christmas Eve.



Now, just relax and enjoy the season!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rants

First, can't we catch a break with the Christmas weather? The current forecasts call for a mixed mess on Thursday or Friday. Gary Lezak is the official weather caster of the South Kansas City Observer, and he is still uncertain about the forecast for exactly the timing and type of precipitation. It looks like it will start sometime Thursday after 1200, and will continue for at least part of Christmas Eve. The worst thing is that there could be ice, which makes everyone very nervous--including me. Last year, there was thunder on Christmas Eve eve, and you needed sled dogs on Christmas Eve. This year? Could it be ice? Frankly, I would take the foot of snow rather than ice.

Second, what is with everyone's driving? During the past week, I have seen some of the worst driving ever. One person, unaccountably, came to a complete stop on an entrance to I-435. Thankfully, both myself and the person directly behind this fool were paying attention and were able to avoid rear ending this idiot and each other. Same ramp, different day--we are all having to swerve around a slow moving minivan. When people drive like ass hats I like to see what they look like, so I know who to avoid in the future. This was a White woman reading something spread out on her steering wheel! I so wished I could have yanked her out of the car and given her a spanking! Finally, earlier in the month was the man turning into QuikTrip while talking on the phone--he almost lost control of his SUV and hit me. Someone else that needs a little corporal punishment.

Well, that's all I got right now. If you are watching ESPN right now, Minnesota is getting yet more snow. Looks cold. Steve Young has snow on his hat. Please drive carefully out there, and stay warm!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Port Authority Issues: Voters Go "Meh."

Back in November, The Pitch had a piece about the relationship between players in the contract to do excavation work at the former Richards-Gebaur air base in south Kansas City. The former air base, under the control of the Kansas City Port Authority (to this former New Yorker, a funny name for an agency in a city not near an ocean, but I guess the Missouri River is water enough), is being developed as a truck and train hub and had to have some dirt moved. The Kansas City Star in a front page piece December 12 picked up the scent.

The potential scandal splashes on a mayoral candidate, Mike Burke, as well as the incumbent, Mark Funkhouser. In a nut shell, there is an appearance of conflict of interest involving one of the Port Authority board members and a contract to move dirt at the old air base. Burke has a lawyerly relationship in the situation.

There has been some chatter on Tony's Kansas City and other parts of the blogosphere. (To see all of Tony's work, just stick "Port Authority" in his blog search tool.) However, the TV stations, usually eager for scandal have not done anything with the story except to cover the mayor's reaction, and the basic response of the citizenry has been, well, "Meh."

The mayor and the Port Authority board haven't gotten along in years anyway. So the mayor's bloviating on the topic late in the week was basically ignored. As was the story on bidding that took place in 2008 was ignored by the majority of the citizens of Kansas City. It does have a faint whiff of insider bidding, but it seems nothing has come of the new publicity in the way of investigations. That is new investigations--there was an investigative response to the questions raised by Ms. Rayford back in 2008--documented here. Via one of his wondrous tipsters, Tony got hold of the document indicating how an investigation had been done at that time and the all clear given. It was not an "official" investigation however, more like an audit of the situation. Still, you would think they would want to know if there is enough in the allegations to either 'fess up or cover up.

Who knows? Someone might get a bee in their bonnet about this at the FBI or something. The voters are apathetic. As of now, "it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Shakespeare, Macbeth.) I do not think it will have much influence on the mayor's race, except maybe to illuminate yet again that Mark Funkhouser has not been a very good mayor of this city in so many ways.

Hot Winds Subsiding

The 111th Congress is wrapping up its lame duck session with a rare Saturday session today. They are currently considering the language of the START treaty proposal. It appears that the Dems will be able to fend off the language changes that the Repubs want.

Since we last visited the Hot Winds, the bill that maintains the Bush tax rates, and extends unemployment benefits did make it past both houses and was signed by President Obama. Staying in the money arena, a $1.2 trillion (holy crap, did I just write trillion?) "omnibus budget bill" was blocked by Republicans and will not be decided by this Congress. They will have to pass some sort of extension/emergency funding of the government's activities through the first bit of next year, and this will be the first real issue to face the 112th Congress with its new configuration of majorities and minorities.

The "DREAM Act" which would create a path to citizenship via education and/or military service for those brought into the United States illegally as children did not pass and will not become law.
"Don't Ask Don't Tell", the policy that homosexual people can not serve openly in the military will be dumped as a result of the votes taken yesterday and today by the house and senate.

I think after they pass that emergency appropriations bill, they get to go home.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kitten Update

Remember my little foundling kitten? Well, she's got a name, and she's been growing like a weed. This picture was taken a month ago, and since then she has grown even more in height and weight. Here, she's posing with her uncle BoyCat, her playmate and occasional chew toy.

Voting Against Your Interests?

Just a few thoughts on "voting against your interests"--a phrase that is frequently applied by left leaning columnists and bloggers to those in the lower and middle lower classes that vote Republican. These days it is most frequently attached to those who support the "Tea Party" candidates and activities.

The implication is that the vote for the Republican is a vote that will hurt the person of a lower class--that Republican proposals and ideas favor only the rich. That Republicans will cut benefits that help those of the lower economic strata, that Republican economic theory and practice only helps those of higher incomes without benefit to anyone else.

It reeks of class conflict, this phrase. In addition, it makes voters sound selfish--like what's in this for me?

It has been said that if voters can cast votes that result in money coming to themselves that that is the "end of the republic." Voters that vote Democratic are often seen by hard core conservative Republicans as voting for continued entitlements and hand outs. This idea, mixed with latent racism, is especially applied to Black voters.

Painting with such a broad brush has a lot of hazards, one of which is indeed igniting a class war. However, the mere fact that people can apply such ideas to voters means that the idea of voters voting only in their self interest and not for the good of the country as a whole is a valid concept. This then begs the question...

When you go into the voting booth to flip the levers, put the X in the box, tap the screen, punch the card or fill in the oval, are you thinking primarily of how your vote will benefit your own self interests or those of our entire country?

More Charges Dropped

A quick and happy note: More charges against Glenn Stevens have been dropped. Allen County Kansas has dropped the charges against the Raymore man. That leaves just one county in Missouri, and they still want to look at the events in the Wal-Mart in Maryville. Hopefully it won't be long for that case to come to a conclusion.

No apologies as yet. No monetary recompense. Yet.


Author's note: In reviewing the report linked in Mr. Hart's post, it appears that the Maryville charge has been dropped for now and that an incoming county prosecutor has retained the right to review the case and renew charges according to his judgement. So no charges right this minute against Mr. Stevens, but small town/county law in one area, perhaps feeling pressure from Wal-Mart, is continuing an interest in prosecuting the case next year. (Boo hiss on them.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Four out of Five

You might remember this story about how five juvenile miscreants managed to escape from lock up during a ruckus back in November. Two were turned in/turned themselves in fairly quickly. The remaining two have been captured within the past couple weeks, leaving just one out loose. This is good news that most of them have been captured, but bad news that one has been wily enough and connected enough to avoid capture. No description has ever been released on this last loose bad boy. I hope that when we do capture him, it is not because he became a suspect in a violent crime. I would consider the authorities at least partially responsible then, as they gave no tools to the public to assist with his capture.


Glenn Stevens: Charges in Versailles Dismissed

I am so happy to report that the Versailles PD and the Morgan County prosecutor have decided to dismiss the charges against Raymore resident (and former South KC resident) Glenn Stevens. Apparently, the new prosecutor decided to look at the video from Wal-Mart with Mr. Stevens, his family and his lawyer present. It was determined that the person in the video was not Mr. Stevens. As Dana Wright of KCTV5 put it on Darla Jaye's program last night: the eyes were wrong, the ears were wrong, it appeared to be a younger man, and he was taller than Mr. Stevens as indicated by how the shopping cart came up to his body. The prosecutor asked for permission to do a lie detector test. Mr. Stevens consented and passed with flying colors. After that all charges were dismissed.

He still has charges pending in two rural counties--one in Missouri and one in Kansas. They were both based on the charges in Versailles. Hopefully, they will disappear rapidly. I cannot imagine what a relief this is to the Stevens family not to have this hanging over their heads.
Now, they are owed an apology, and, if at all possible, the money back that had to put up for bail--$30,000 for the Versailles charges. Eventually, this will include the $15,000 for the other two counties' charges. That's a lot of money! I would hate to find myself having to go into debt or have an extra mortgage due to this happening to me and it should not happen to Mr. Stevens. We will keep you updated.


Friday, December 10, 2010

What Is Going On In Washington?

This lame duck session of the congress has been the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life time. You'd think that with both the house and senate under the control of one party that it would be easy to get things done. This post won't make much sense, because the actions of the last weeks of the 111st Congress have not made much sense. They haven't been very easy to follow either.

First, we have a deal on taxes. The tax rates of the past 10 years preserved for two more years. Another year or so of funding for benefits for the unemployed. A renewal of the inheritance tax, but at a lower rate. A 2% reduction in the amount withheld by FICA from people's paychecks. Not a perfect thing--a legislative sausage with a little of this and a little of that.

The house just plain refused to vote on it. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) yapped for over eight hours in the senate against it (It's hard for this writer to remember that Bernie is a Senator now!), and now it appears to be tabled.

Other crap got hung on it--ethanol subsidies and alt energy stuff.

President Obama had a press briefing which he left early, leaving former President Bill Clinton to preside for 20 minutes.

Meantime, the Republicans in the senate managed to stall changing the policy of the military regarding homosexuals serving openly. Republicans also led the way in voting down aid to ill 9/11 rescue and recovery workers made sick by the environment at Ground Zero.

Many democrats are mad at President Obama for even thinking of continuing the Bush tax rates for those with yearly incomes over $250,000. They've been fulminating in the chambers and to the press.

Meantime, the Dream Act, with regard to immigrants and education, is sitting on the table in the Senate. And whither the START arms treaty thing?

To borrow a phrase from blogger bud Ann T.--a LOT of Hot Wind.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 1941

I was thinking about this day--one of the first of the dates of strong memory for many. Hawaii is four hours behind the central time zone--five hours behind the eastern time zone. How long did word of the attack take to come to the general population? Today, we would know instantly, in the blink of an eye. How would word have gotten out? My guess would be via the military as they would have had the ability to carry the news over the ocean to the United States.

Odds are then that few would have been shocked by this Monday, December 8 edition of the New York Times. Shock would have grown as details emerged of the sinking of the ships, loss of life and heroism of the attacked. It would have then congealed into anger and resolve--resolve to restore order and seek justice.

I wish sometimes we could bottle this unity and resolve against a common enemy and compassion for the victims and sprinkle it around as needed when we are facing a less obvious and violent foe. Now, with our changing economy and needy people, segments of our population feeling left out, we seem to need a unity of purpose and community that we find hard to produce. Our discourse too often degenerates into name calling, selfish action and demonizing as we seek possible solutions and actions.

Would it be possible for us to come together once again to take action as one against the economic situations that threaten to destroy some, take apart our unity and create divisions in our country where before there were none?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wow--Wayside Waifs Open House Wildly Successful!

Merry Christmas from Wayside Waifs!

When I came to the drive way up to Wayside Waifs today to visit the holiday open house, there were cars parked almost all the way down to Martha Truman Road! Wow, what a fabulous turn out! And according to Wayside's FB page, 104 animals found new homes today.

Every where you looked in the shelter, volunteers and staff were helping adopters with the paperwork to adopt pets. It was awesome! The photo above actually was taken after the crowd had thinned some--as you can see everyone is still busy!


This is the sight I saw when I went in to check out the dogs. Empty kennels! I have never seen these front kennels empty during the two or three years I have been visiting Wayside Waifs regularly. There were plenty of empty spaces in the cat section too, although the majority of adopted animals were dogs.

Wayside Waifs is at 3901 Martha Truman Road in south Kansas City. There are always great animals that can be adopted there--some are in foster care or receiving medical care--the place is never really "empty." On the web at www.waysidewaifs.org. for more information, phone number and directions.

From the D'oh! Files...


From the D'oh! Files...

and then there's this, from the stupid crime division of the D'oh! Files...


People, people, people!

Friday, December 3, 2010

No To Troy Schulte For City Manager

Troy Schulte took over the City Manager's job in late November of 2009. He still wears the interim label--he has not been made the City Manager permanently. So one of the first things that the newly elected mayor will need to decide when he/she takes office after the March 2011 election is whether or not Mr. Schulte should be the CM on a permanent basis.

I say no to Troy Schulte.

His role in the MAST debacle can not be overlooked. It was Troy Schulte who was providing the numbers and information for the City Council committee that first examined the idea back in January 2009.

Oh, I mean the lack of numbers, because one of the outstanding features of this horrible decision was the lack of information regarding its actual benefits and costs. I have hammered on that since the very first meeting back in August 2009.

Now, we have reports of more overtime costs than expected. And of course, the pension issue is still around, still hanging over the city like the Sword of Damocles. Schulte admitted he made certain promises about the pension back in October, remember?

Troy Schulte is not the right combination of manager and strength. A City Manager manages the city. It is not a political office. Schulte has been used by political players to get what they want. That is a disqualification for the position. He needs to go.

File photo from The Kansas City Star, taken not long after he assumed CM position.

Glenn Stevens

Glenn and Irene Stevens. Photo from the Kansas City Star.

There's a serious miscarriage of justice going on and it's going on right here in the Kansas City metro. It came to big light after KCTV5 aired their special report on the arrests of Raymore resident Glenn Stevens in late November. They'd been contacted by the Stevens family in the summertime and worked on the investigation for several months.

The story was also picked up by the Kansas City Star. Today, Mr. Stevens, his wife Irene, their lawyer and Channel 5's Dana Wright were guests of the Shanin and Parks Show on KMBZ. Blogger Groucho of Capt. Spaulding's World has also been following this case.

In a nutshell, Mr. Stevens has been accused of stealing from retail giant Wal-Mart. He has been charged with thefts at three Wal-Marts. They have actually been looking at him as a suspect in a string of thefts from 20 Wal-Marts! He has never been arraigned for these three known charges, but he has been taken to jail. For the Nodaway county case, he was jailed with a cash only bond of $30,000, a bond more appropriate to a violent crime involving a weapon! He spent July 4th in jail due to these charges and this ridiculous bail.

Mr. Stevens has proof that he was elsewhere during the alleged theft from the Wal-Mart in the Nodaway county town of Versailles. They won't even look at it. During Dana Wright's report, the police officer makes the outrageous statement that Mr. Stevens will have to work to show his innocence of the charges--an exact reverse of how the system is supposed to work!

As a sign of support to this innocent man, The Observer has his picture up on the side bar. Clicking on the photo will lead you to Glenn Stevens is Innocent--a blog maintained by one of his children. Leroy Stevens is putting everything about the cases he can up on the blog so it will be a vital way to stay in touch with this awful case.

Also you should read Groucho's posts on the matter as well, here, here and here. I know it's tough, but consider boycotting Wal-Mart--at least until they admit they are wrong and remove themselves as complainant in these bogus charges.

This man is just two years older than the Observer's mother and was born the same year as the Observer's late father--I am trying to imagine my mother going to jail for something she didn't do and would never consider doing. It's just outrageous.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News Digest and Quick Commentary

Item: Mo. Gov. Wants Prescriptions For Certain Cold Meds My first reaction was immediate and personal. What a pain in the butt! It's already a bad deal to have to remember to go to the store when the pharmacy is open, but to have to see my doctor before hand for something that can be fixed with a little red pill (like a sinus headache)? Not to mention the extra cost in money and time. What's to stop meth dopers from going to another state for the chemical? It will not help if not universally applied, and that is just too much nanny government for me. Although the surveillance has its own problems, using the registry in this and other states is a good way to track down meth manufacturing abusers of pseudoephedrine. This drug really works as intended for most people--let's keep it available for those who need it.

Item: Gov't Orders Cities to Change Street Signs Apparently, six years ago, it was decreed by the Federal Gubmint that all street signs shall be rendered in all CAPS. Now, the same Federal Gubmint has decreed that street signs shall be rendered in Mixed Case. It was just a few years ago that the ALL CAPS signs started appearing around Kansas City, Missouri. Now, starting in 2012, those signs will have to be replaced. The gubmint says that signs with mixed case are easier to read--that is that Red Bridge Road is easier to read and comprehend than RED BRIDGE ROAD. Hmmm, OK if you say so on that, but this is an unfunded mandate for states and cities already strapped for cash, even with replacement over the span of several years. Besides what's to stop the overbearing Feds from changing their mind five years from now? Let cities and states make the final decisions for form, within the structure of simple, fundamental specs from the feds which do not change every five minutes.

Item: Wikileaks opens up diplomatic communications A serious offense against this nation? I do think so, although I am not so much wanting the head of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as the heads of those who put the documents in this man's hands. We have already seen one person prosecuted for the previous leaks. Let's find out and prosecute the source of these new leaks. By the way, has anyone heard much from President Obama on this? I'd like to hear some passion from our president, and not so much his intellectual side when and if he comments. Something on the order of, "This is a travesty and we are going to find out what happened and we are going to bring the force of the law on those responsible." That would be good.

Enjoy this chilly night!

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29, 1988

At about 0400 November 29, 1988 two Kansas City Fire Department pumpers responded to a report of a truck on fire at 87th Street and about Hickman Mills Drive--about where the future U.S. 71 Highway would pass as it was constructed north. Firefighters were aware that explosives were stored at the site, but had no idea of the breadth of that storage. At 0407 one trailer full of ammonium nitrate--the same substance that was used to bring down the federal building in Oklahoma City, exploded. This was followed by a second explosion about 40 minutes later. The two explosions killed six firefighters, completely demolishing the pumper trucks, and leaving huge craters in the land scape. It is well known that arson was the cause of the initial fires, but the investigation has been riddled with questions and even now some cast doubt on the conviction of the individuals that were charged with the crime.

The explosion was of such force that it was heard 30-40 miles from the site. The concussion broke many windows in the nearby area, and people were evacuated until it was clear that it was safe. I was not here at the time, but I met several people who were living just south of the site at Nob Hill Apartments at Bannister (95th St) and U.S. 71 who told me they were literally bounced out of bed by the force of the two explosions.

Killed that day were Thomas M. Fry, Gerald Halloran, Luther Hurd, James Kilventon Jr, Robert McKarnin, and Michael Oldham. The men, here listed in alphabetical order, worked on pumper 30 and pumper 41. I was watching some old video from the news casts, and the most shattering video was the site of the men wandering around the empty bay of pumper 30's station, trying to make sense of the loss.

Photos, from the Kansas City Star's archives. Top, the site after the explosion. You can see the remains of the trucks. Bottom, the memorial built on the site honoring the lost men.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sorry

Sorry for the lack of blog posts. I just can't get my thoughts in very good order these days.

I am very impressed that this country, this state, this city have some very serious problems to solve.

There are people on both the "left" and the "right" that proport to have the answers.

I don't know if I believe that anymore.

I think we have to stop being arrogant and know it all and settle down and really work together to find some answers.

Along the way, there are going to be fundamental changes in many value systems.

My prayer is that we can preserve the open, classless, free America that makes us different than other countries--the difference that causes people to fight like Hell to come here.

In addition, there are sections of our society that have just "given up" and spend most of their time wasting time and money and when that gets too boring, stealing and killing from each other and from others.

We need help. I believe that God will help. However, I also believe that the best source of help is right here, near by.

It's us--when we quit name calling, judging and attacking each other.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving

The Observer is pretty darn thankful this Thanksgiving Eve.

Thankful for a safe place to lay the head, food security, and shoes on the feet. Thankful for a car that works pretty well, and a place to park it.

Thankful for a country free enough that I can have a blog, open to anyone who finds it to read, to express opinions and, with few restrictions, free to offer any opinion or view point.

Thankful that I can practice the faith of my choosing and freely assemble with others of like mind, knowing that we will be free to do it again the next week--or the next day if we want to.

Yes, my country has troubles, and it is going to take a lot of work to make some of them better, but it is a good country, full of smart, innovative, hard working people.

Not everything is perfect, but the possibility of change exists, and for this hope, I am thankful also. Somehow, the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr fits here.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right;
If I surrender to His will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And surpremely happy with Him
forever in the next.

Amen.

May you all have a peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving celebration!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Feeling Feisty Today... On Loose Juvy Offenders

Well, over at You're Looking Live--the sports division of the South KC Observer--I just hammered Bo Pelini, the coach of the University of Nebraska football team for acting like a dipwad during the Nebraska/Texas A & M game Saturday night.

On my personal FB page, I just took my church to task for continuing to announce an opportunity after the registration deadline passed.

Now, I am completely after the law enforcement people for how they are handling the escape of five young criminals from the juvy lock up.

First a few links--KSHB: Juveniles escape from Jackson County Juvenile Detention...KCTV: 5 Teens Escape... KMBC: Police Searching for Juvenile...Fox4: Juveniles on the Run...Kansascity.com: Jackson County authorities searching...

Now, typically I don't give you all those news links, but I wanted to this time to note that there is little information given that will be really helpful in engaging the community's help in catching these little miscreants. We do get ages and offenses--and don't they all sound like fine upstanding young citizens who just had a moment of bad judgement--but no description at all. We're left wondering if they are White, Black or something else; if they are tall or short, fat or thin, brown haired or blond. We're given no clue about their neighborhoods of origin, or home towns...

Further freaking more--they did not release this information until SUNDAY and the escape was FRIDAY. So these little..darlings...have had a TWO DAY HEAD START.

Please forgive the capitals, but this is ridiculous. Confidentiality has that much status over public safety?!?

ARGH!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Fiats At LA Auto Show

Now this would be a spot for an autophile! The LA Auto Show is where is has been at this past week with new and refreshed models offered by several manufacturers. Now The Observer's household has been a Chrysler household since 1987 and I have been waiting to see the new offerings of small cars via partner Fiat. Not since the K Car and the minivan has the future of an automobile concern been so intertwined with a car model. Chrysler/Fiat must get a foothold in the small car market to go along with their continued strong work in Jeeps and large cars.

They look sort of small, don't they?

Kansas City Auto Show in March--hopefully, we'll have some of these to paw over...there is one authorized dealer--the charming people at Olathe Chrysler...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Paseo Bridge Takes Last Cars Today

The Paseo Bridge has had its last day today providing passage to areas north of the river and the airport. Even though I have lived in the southland all the time I've been in Kansas City, I saw the Paseo Bridge on a fairly regular basis when I had a job in the early 1990s shuttling folks to and from the airport for Nazarene headquarters. I liked the bridge--like so many suspension bridges so elegant with its cables and curves. The simplicity of the supports gradually grew on me. When it became obvious that it would be replaced I was saddened. I would miss its simple and understated grace. The Bond Bridge has its own beauty, and I am sure that I will come to appreciate its increased capacity over time, but I am sorry to see the Paseo Bridge go.


Photo from The Pitch after a Google search. I wish I had my own photos!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Really Like This Story...

I just really like this story from KSHB about a metro man, Shawn Breakfield, who looking for the cremated remains of his mother who died while he was serving a prison term. A lot of people took time to help him find his mom's cremains. A former employee of the funeral home. The new owner of the building. The media played a role in facilitating the coming together of all the parties. Now it is hoped to inventory the remaining cremains and put the names on the internet. The other neat part of the story is that Mr. Breakfield is doing well himself, married, with a child on the way. Congratulations to all participating, and prayers to Mr. Breakfield as he processes anew the loss of his mom.

Enjoy the KSHB report, and the video, below.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Do We Do With This?

This dude (photo: MSNBC) is Michael Richard Swanson, a 17 year old from Minnesota. He is a suspect in the murder of two convenience store clerks in Iowa. The clerks gave this little creep everything he requested, but he killed them "to keep them from calling the cops." Here's the story from MSNBC.

Today, also, the Kansas City Missouri Police reported that they have two 17 year olds under arrest in the murder of Helen Ragen of south Kansas City. The two young men have confessed that they had had a "beef" with a twenty-something Black man. They believed that that person lived at the Regan house. To get back at this perceived wrong, they shot blindly over 30 shots into the home, striking Ms. Ragen and killing her. Here is the story from the Kansas City Star.

It is so hard when looking at the stories of the actions of these severely morally impaired people and not want the death penalty, not want vengeance. These types of people have been around since sin came to the forefront in the Garden. Barring a total spiritual make over, they will be destined to repeat their moral failures, creating a trail of victims where ever they go. The only way to stop them, absent that radical change, is to kill them, or separate them from society forever. Even if they were to regain their moral "North Star," they still need to pay for the harm they inflicted when they were acting so sinfully, selfishly and antisocially.

What say you? What do we do with individuals who have fallen away so far from common decency and respect for life?


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DUI Funny

Sorry, it's just funny. Hat tip to The Blaze.


Best comment from "Blaze" readers--I would love to know where "here" is in this comment:

BIG RED LUNCHBOX
Posted on November 16, 2010 at 11:31am

We had a drunk Prius driver here drive through 2 barricades, fencing and landed in a 15 ft hole. This occurred right in front of a Fire Station. The driver called 911 from the hole and had no idea where they were.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mayor Funky Revival?

Land's sakes, we all have such short memories!

I even caught myself thinking that Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser had actually started to sound reasonable in his last few public appearances and his monthly excursion into radio on KMBZ. The hosts of the show, Scott Parks and Mike Shanin, also noted that the tenor of the phone calls into the program had changed--there was less hostility and challenge to them.

But remember what has transpired over the past years since his election.

Messy conflicts with personnel at all levels, including the vital office of City Manager.

His wife Gloria's continued presence at City Hall, despite the $500,000 her habitation cost the city in a law suit settlement.

The general tin ear that Funkhouser possesses with regard to dealing with people.

The MAST merger.

Lots of broken promises with regard to being "smart with the money."

The 2009 snow removal fiasco.

Now, there are a bunch of people who would like to succeed Funkhouser as mayor. The sheer number of them, and his incumbent advantage could be enough to send Funkhouser through as one of the top two finishers, and possibly to a second term.

Is that what we want? Think about it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rain Exposes Most Metro Drivers as FRAUDS!

So OK, it hasn't rained around here in about a month. I guess that's long enough for everyone to forget how to handle the car in the wet conditions.

It's been ridiculous, folks! People crashing at a prodigious rate! And not just minor crashes, but several fatal crashes including one in the northland and another in Lee's Summit.


Please remember that visibility is reduced in the rain, so you won't see as far ahead. Stopping distance increases in the rain, as does the likelihood of skidding if you need to make a quick maneuver or stop.


One of the problems is speed. Many people are just driving too fast! Others are driving too slowly and making obstacles of themselves, causing others to have to make driving decisions to get around them.
However the biggest thing is...LACK OF ATTENTION TO THE DRIVING TASK!

People, when you are driving, you are in control of a 1800-4000 lbs missile of glass, plastic and steel. You make that move at a rate of 95 feet per second when driving at 65 miles per hour. That is about 30 yards in one second--about a third of the field of play on a football field. Please think about this when you use your phone, text on your phone or fiddle with your radio. A lot can happen in just a few seconds! Remember the goal: Arrive Alive.

Images: KCI--vehicle into lake--KMBC. Northland crash--Fox 4 and KSHB. Lee's Summit--KMBC.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

As I considered a post for this day, a day where we remember the service of men and women in our armed forces who fought to preserve our freedom, I looked at a number of images and photos. Some showed wounded soldiers, some showed the funerals of soldiers, one showed a soldier doing the mundane work of "burning the shitters" at a forward base. This one though, this one spoke to me. Although it was taken in Afghanistan in 2010, soldiers of every war can be seen in the slightly weary face of Sgt. Thomas James Brennan of Massachusetts in his damp bivouac. So to every veteran I say thank you for your service.

I was getting gas tonight and I saw a spry elderly man jump out of his SUV. He was wearing a Navy cap. I greeted him, "Happy Veteran's Day, thank you for your service!" He was delightful, cracking wise about how everything today was "free or discounted," telling me of his breakfast at HyVee and his coming dinner at Applebee's. "I might even reenlist." he says, "but I'm only 82--too young--they won't take me." He served in the Pacific during WWII. No need sir, we'll take it from here.

Veterans, thank you. And also a big thank you to the families of service members.

Above photo from "Big Picture" blog. Here's a link to the series.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Solyndra's Dilemma

I know that I'll probably catch it for confessing this, but I do occasionally listen to Rush Limbaugh. He told a story today that I want to touch on, but go a different direction. This is not about the government loan to a company, this is about the ability of this country to recover economically--to have real productive jobs that actually have an end result and are not just pushing paper from one side of the desk to the other.

The story is about Solyndra, a company that manufactures solar energy equipment in California. Solyndra received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government to help build a new plant and expand their business making solar cells and other solar energy equipment. They are going to lay off some 40 employees, not take up the contracts of about 100 others and shut down one of their plants. The reason given is that they cannot compete with the prices of the companies manufacturing similar equipment in China. Here's a link to an article in the Los Angeles Times--I didn't just take Rush's word for it.

Now, let's do a thought exercise. Let's engage our imagination for a minute. Imagine a group of people perceive a demand for a certain widget. The type of widget is not really important--just that it is an actual object that needs to be made from raw materials. The group of people gather some money together--let's make it all private money--and start a company that manufactures widgets--Widgets Incorporated. They get a building, the fabricating equipment, the material, a couple of employees and start making widgets. Lo and behold, the widgets find a market and sell reasonably well. It costs our imaginary company some amount--say $8--to make each widget, but the price they can sell at covers costs, returns a small profit and still attracts customers.

All is well until we find out that Chow Mein Heavy Industries decides it wants to make widgets too, either under its own name, or under the name of a conglomerate--you know one of those makes everything from A to Z things. Any how, Chow Mein works its numbers, and makes widgets. At $5.50 a piece, since their labor costs are much lower. They price the widget accordingly on the market. Lo and behold, people start buying Chow Mein's widgets, because they are cheaper.

This means trouble for Widgets Incorporated. Widgets Inc. has lost market share, and is not selling enough widgets to be cost effective, and keep going in their current state. What to do? Cut wages? Cut staff? Change marketing? Major on service with and after the sale? Manufacture in China with General Tso's Manufacturing Company? Just keep going but make less money per unit? Close up shop altogether and leave the making of things to the peasants of China?

This is the life of Solyndra right now--forget the federal loan situation for now--how are they to proceed? And what is best for our country? Should that be a consideration? Or did they just miscalculate and tough for them?

Thoughts?

Friday, November 5, 2010

An Idea to Bring In Some Money

We are all broke, including the government. The government has been trying all kinds of new and old ideas to bring in money. I had an idea.

Complete tax amnesty for 3 months. Now, it has to be kept simple. The taxpayer is responsible for documentation. The government will not spend a lot of time with a goofy "application" and "approval" process. (We saw how well that worked for the mortgage mess.) Once the debt is verified, payment is made by the taxpayer right there. No further penalty or process involved.

Didn't file with the IRS a couple years ago? Get that return together, pay the amount you would have owed back then, and send it in and be done. No interest. No penalty. (No refund back to you either though and to get amnesty and stop the IRS process, you must file return[s] for the missing year[s]).

Behind in personal property tax on your car? Find out how much and pay that amount only. No interest. No penalty. No problem.

Property taxes behind? Same thing. Pay it in full, without penalty or interest. No more threats of a tax sale of your property on the steps of the courthouse.

I think this would work. But it has to be kept simple, to keep administrative costs to a minimum. Simple works here. People would take advantage, knowing it would clear things up for good with the taxing agencies. I think the money would roll in.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Reaction

I was on Facebook last night via my BlackBerry while out and about watching the election returns. Around 10 pm I found the cryptic post from a left leaning friend: "God help America." This afternoon, once on the computer I decided to check out the thread that developed.

After a morning of reading and listening to opining about the election and where our country is going, I was still bothered to some degree by my friend's short comment. How is it that the Republican victories gave such a sense of dismay that my friend was looking for divine intervention?

I think the first thing we need to do is to give our politicians the same grace we give our friends and family. My mother, bless her heart, was guiding Vermont Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin around her small town during the last month of the campaign. We agree to disagree, my mother and I on both politics and religion. The friend above is an awesome, funny, smart and passionate person. Her left leanings do not make me think less of her.

So we need to stop demonizing the opposition. We may disagree and do battle in the arena of ideas, but the ad hominum attacks and suspicions of evil plans do not help us solve the difficult problems that this country faces. Let's not take our disagreements to the levels such that we are running around thinking the other is not just wrong, but evil. It doesn't help our system, which is built on planned opposition and checks and balances anyway, work any better. Honest debate is what we need, not hysteria followed by stubbornness.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Two Excellent Election Eve Links for You

The first is Scott Rasmussen, from the Wall Street Journal, thinking about how voters are not voting for the GOP, but against what they have seen from the Democrats and the Democratic party during these past two to four years. Here's a snip.

More precisely, it [voting against the party in power] is a rejection of a bipartisan political elite that's lost touch with the people they are supposed to serve. Based on our polling, 51% now see Democrats as the party of big government and nearly as many see Republicans as the party of big business. That leaves no party left to represent the American people.

Voters today want hope and change every bit as much as in 2008. But most have come to recognize that if we have to rely on politicians for the change, there is no hope. At the same time, Americans instinctively understand that if we can unleash the collective wisdom and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

In this environment, it would be wise for all Republicans to remember that their team didn't win, the other team lost. Heading into 2012, voters will remain ready to vote against the party in power unless they are given a reason not to do so.

Elected politicians also should leave their ideological baggage behind because voters don't want to be governed from the left, the right, or even the center. They want someone in Washington who understands that the American people want to govern themselves.

I'm not sure I agree completely with his conclusion that voters want to "govern themselves." but it's pretty darned clear that voters are not happy with the governing that has been taking place and are not afraid to let the powers know that via the ballot box.

The second is from Michael Kruse. Kruse is the voice behind the Kruse Kronicles blog. Here he guest-posts at the blog of Allan R. Bevere, a Methodist minister in Ohio. Kruse snags three things really well in this entry: one, how it is that we come to demonize the other side; two, how we make the calculus about the common good, and how values differing gives different answers to that question and three, how these two tendencies come to conflict with each other. I'd give you a taste, but nothing I would pull out would make sense without the rest of it, so you'll just have to click on the link and read it for yourself. I think you'll find yourself nodding your head yes.

Oh, and if I didn't mention it before, you should go vote tomorrow, November 2. Polls in Missouri are open from 0600 (6 a.m.) to 1900 (7 p.m.). If you are in line at close, you will vote. Missouri voter info can be found at http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/default.aspx

Info for Kansas voters can be found at https://myvoteinfo.voteks.org/ Kansas polls are open 07-19. (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

Bid Fair Well to the Pink

We take just a minute on this first day of November to bid fair well to the pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month. I did like the way it looked, (it looks good with teal, doesn't it?) but we must not abuse the pink. It will lose its punch.

In the meantime, for you ladies, and you men who love ladies, here is a reminder of the suggested screening protocol for breast cancer in most women. Women with a history of breast cancer in their family should consult their doctors for further guidance.


More info can be found in many places on the internet--Susan G. Koman is a good place to start--that's the source for this snip.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vote November 2

On a rainy day in October 2008, I noticed this sign in Grandview. I have never seen one since, and have no idea where it came from.

In case you can't read it between the raindrops it says, "Get informed. Vote. Don't lose your voice."

So, please don't forget to vote November 2nd.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

And A Word From the Wilds of Vermont

Libertarians and conservatives might be rare in my former home state but they have a lot of moxie. Enjoy this stick in the liberal eye from Vermont Woodchuck. A tip of the fedora to Vermont Loon Watch. The post is fun and funny, but also makes some pungent points about entitlements, the role of government and simple knowledge of what our Constitution really says.

A multiple choice test for liberals

Test your knowledge of the Constitution and Historywith this simple multiple choice test.

Select which of the words or phrases does not appear in the Constitution:
A) Health care B) Right to Privacy C) Separation of Church and State D) To each according to their needs E) A & D

The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right of:
A) Welfare B) absorbent paper towels C) Illegal immigration D) equal protection to all citizens

The Fourth Amendment guarantees the Right of the People to:
A) a bailout B) Social Security C) their persons, houses, papers, and effects D) Assemble

The Original Tea Party was a gripe over:
A) Bush Derangement Syndrome B) Taxes C) School Vouchers D) Big Dig E) The Stimulus

When the Liberals speak of letting a woman choose, do they mean they can choose to:
A) None of the following B) have a Down’s baby C) promise to honor and obey D) buy a gun E) vote Conservative

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roy Blunt and the Immigrant

There has been a lot of attention paid to a report that Roy Blunt had an illegal immigrant working for him in 1990. It has focused on what he knew about her immigration status, and what he did for her after she left his employ. The Democrats think Blunt broke the law, by allowing her to work for him, and then pulled strings to try and help her. They feel it is a reflection of his character, that he was breaking the law, and is now lying about it.

Apparently, while Blunt was Secretary of State of Missouri, he wrote a letter on the Nicaraguan woman's behalf to the INS. He denies that he ever employed her before she was certified OK to work by immigration.

Blunt supporters feel that it is a tempest in a teapot, a long time ago and no big deal. Some observers have noted that this is the sort of grilling and inspection that discourages most people from seeking public office. Who doesn't have a moment in their past when their judgement was not the best?

I see this as someone trying to help out another person. I don't think that Roy Blunt meant to look like he was skirting the law, or trying to use pull in Washington. Really, it looks to me like Roy Blunt was just trying to help someone. I wonder if he would do better to put it that way--"I was trying to help her out. I probably should have checked on the laws and double checked her status with INS and so forth a little more carefully. But my intention was to help someone make their way legally to the path to citizenship."--rather than looking snippy and angry with the dean of Kansas City political reporters, Michael Mahoney.

Now, doesn't all this just make you want to dash right over and sign up to run for public office?

Monday, October 25, 2010

National Races: Familiar Names and Long Shots

The United States Senate seat long held by Christopher "Kit" Bond is up for grabs as Senator Bond is retiring. The candidates for the seat are Robin Carnahan, Democrat and Roy Blunt, Republican. If those names seem familiar, it's because their families have been staples in Missouri politics for years. In addition, Blunt is a seven term congressman from the 7th District in southwestern Missouri. He has also worked as a teacher and was a university president. He got his start in politics in 1973.

Blunt has the reputation of being open to all the lobbyists and is generally regarded as well integrated into the Washington inside. Carnahan is less seasoned in Washington, but clearly has jumped right into politics. The 49 year old has worked abroad with the National Democratic Institute, worked briefly in international banking as an assistant, and has helped manage the Carnahan farm. She has not spent a great deal of time outside of work governmental in nature, and has no executive experience in the private sector.
Turning to the 5th District congressional race, we have the returning long shot running against the incumbent. Jacob Turk is running for the third time. He is a conservative Republican and has been consistant in his positions. He has held no previous political office; per his biography he has been both employee and owner in the business world.

Cleaver has been a pastor, a city councilman, the mayor of Kansas City and is now running for his third term in congress. He is a liberal, and has been quietly supporting each step of the Obama presidential agenda these past two years.
That's the basics of these two races.
I'm not liking the senate race at all. I am not in favor of many things that Robin Carnahan is in favor of. I am not in favor of the "Cap and Trade" carbon tax. I do not want more stimulus. I do not want knee jerk taxation. My inclination is to the conservative side. But when I look over there, I find an overly connected to the big money lobbyists politician who represents everything that is wrong with our system right now. We need politicians who truly represent all the people and not the people who give him the most money. Roy Blunt does not fit that description. I am not particularly happy with voting for Roy Blunt in a week and a day, but I probably will. He is running ahead of Carnahan in the polls and national Democrats and the President are not giving much support to her at this point.

As to the 5th District, well, this seat has been held by Democrats since--what--Truman? (More precisely, since 1933, there has been one Republican elected--Albert Reeves served from 1947-1949. All others Democratic.) Jacob Turk is going to have great difficulty overcoming the knee jerk Democrats--the "I vote Democratic because my father did, and my grandfather did." crowd. Furthermore, the Black vote will head to Cleaver, one, as he is a Democrat and two, because so many still believe that you can only be well represented by someone who looks like you. Turk is doing better this year than ever, but he probably will not win. I will vote for Turk, but I expect Cleaver to win. I would consider a Republican sitting in the Missouri 5th District seat a sure sign of the Apocalypse and would be looking for Jesus' coming any time.

Photo credits, from top to bottom: Blunt, from his FB page; Carnahan from her website; Turk, from his FB page; Cleaver, official government portrait.