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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

South KC, Be On The Look Out...

This article's descriptions sound a lot like the two guys who broke into the "wrong" apartment earlier this week. I post this not to make South Kansas City peeps fearful, but to ask you all to be careful who you open the door to, and to be extra observant these days. It would be good to catch these guys. Also make a note of anyone trying to sell laptops, electronics or cell phones for cheap. From the Kansas City Star:

KC man beaten, tied up, robbed during home invasion

Two robbers armed with a handgun and crowbar barged into a Kansas City apartment Tuesday night and beat and tied up a 19-year-old man.
The robbers stole three televisions, two laptops, cash, jewelry and other electronics. The victim suffered severe swelling to his head, forehead and mouth.
The victim told police he was home in the 10300 block of Hillcrest Road about 8:35 p.m. playing a video game when someone knocked on his door. He looked through the peephole, but could only see the back of a man’s head. When he opened the door to get a better look, two armed men forced their way inside. One suspect hit the victim with a crowbar on his head, and they tied him up with plastic zip-ties. They hit and kicked him in the face then covered him on the floor with a blanket as they ransacked the home.
The victim’s girlfriend came home about 15 minutes later and found her boyfriend covered in blood. She called police

Kansas City News Headlines: Funk's Running and MAST Pension Issue Back in Committee

Back to commitee for the MAST/KCFD pension issue--Chris Hernandez has a good report on KSHB. New questions have come up about what exactly was promised to MAST staffers concerning the pensions. Different stories are being told. Looming over all this is the potential law suit from IAFF Local 42. Some are speculating this may just hang fire until after the November election. My guess is that the City Council members wouldn't mind passing this political hot potato around until after the city elections in March 2011. I understand Local 42 President Louie Wright was there at this meeting. I would have liked to have seen His Oiliest in person.

Mayor Funkhouser announced today that he and Gloria are running for reelection for sure. I think his chances for reelection are fair. His record is not good. Most people do not want co mayors
and many are dismayed at how the city has been run and the direction things are going. However, the field has become very crowded, which is a help to Funkhouser, and he has the incumbent's advantage of name recognition. One thing is for sure, with at least four viable candidates (Funk, Burke, James, Hermann), the mayor's race will be very intense through the primary in February 2011.

Photos: top, The Observer. Bottom, The Pitch.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crime Stories: The Star Is Not Enabling Comments

I've noticed a trend that I find a bit disturbing. The Kansas City Star has disabled the comment function in their internet edition on many crime stories. Here is an example for you.

The full headline is "Thieves apologize for mistaken break-in, but still take woman's rings and cell phone." Here's the story:

Four men who barged into a woman’s Kansas City apartment Sunday afternoon apologized because it apparently was the wrong home.
The mistake did not prevent them from stealing from the 41-year-old woman, who had been preparing lunch when her front door was kicked in at 1:20 p.m.
A gunman charged at her, screamed for her to get on the floor and pointed a handgun. Another man carried a crowbar into the residence in the 1500 block of E. 97th Street.
“Where is he?” the gunman yelled. The woman replied she didn’t know what he was talking about.
The gunman repeatedly demanded the location of “the money and the weed,” but the woman kept telling him she didn’t understand and that he must have had the wrong place.
The gunman asked who else was there and escorted the woman to her 11-year-old son’s room, where the boy was hiding under his bed.
“You’re cool, lil’ dude,” the gunman told him.
One suspect tried to take the boy’s video game system, but another suspect told him “not to take the kid’s games,” according to police reports.
Before fleeing, the gunman stole the woman’s rings and cell phone, saying, “I’m sorry.”

Feel free to comment on the Star's story. Please to avoid profanity and offensive language. Thank you. In the meantime, Kansas City Star, restore the comment icon to its rightful place in all stories, not just sports articles.

Pondering Proposition B: The Puppy Bill

One of several Propositions and constitution changes on the ballot November 2 (a mere 15 days away!) for Missouri voters, Proposition B proposes to make stricter regulations for Missouri's animal breeding operations. For some reason, Missouri is a hot bed of dog breeding. I have heard estimates of 30% of pure bred dogs are bred in Missouri. Missouri has also generated some very bad dog breeders who overbreed, crowd and generally treat their animals very badly. Thus this proposition, generated through the petition system, to attempt to strengthen Missouri law and make breeders treat their animals better.

Instinctively, I want to support this Proposition. However, my instinct is tempered with the knowledge that it is yet more government regulation and interference with the commerce and activity of the people. If you read the "Anti B" folks, they see the law as overly strict, running family owned "underfoot" (meaning pups are kept in the home) breeders out of business but not doing anything for the unlicensed "assembly line breeder". People against Prop B feel that current law is sufficient but needs more enforcement. People who are for Proposition B see current Missouri statues as totally inadequate and a complete failure in preventing poor breeding conditions at breeding operations. They see breeders as a group needing further regulation, on account of breeders treat dogs badly to reduce operating expenses so they can make more money.

So, as you consider Proposition B, think about the lines drawn between sensible regulation and the oppressive "nanny state"--you know, the one that wants to ban sugared drinks and transfats. Where does Prop B fall? Read the ballot language and full statue and think about it. Vote intelligently and well informed, whichever way you end up leaning.

LINK: The actual ballot language--please note this page contains all the ballot items for November 2. Proposition B is the fifth one down. You, however, should read the others too.

LINK: The statue that will result from a "YES" vote.

LINK: The Kansas City Star lays out the arguments on Prop B, and has 60+ comments too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

MAST Pension Mess: I Let Them Have It, Finally

My comment on a post from Tony's Kansas City. I just cannot believe what a flippin mess this has turned into--and it was totally predictable.

This all just makes me wanna hollar. Honestly, did we see any freaking numbers before this happened? NO WE DID NOT--we got the fine-fine hand job--and it was just as unsatisfying. So here we are, about where I thought we'd be, and I keep thinking the four least satisfying words in the English language: I told you so.

It was all about power and money. Louie Wright does not care about the former MAST employees, or even the fire fighters. He sure as hell doesn't care about the community. Louie Wright is yet another greed head pol, looking out for number 1--that would be LW.

Eventually city worker pensions are going to have to be dealt with, and it will not be pretty. People are going to lose out on money they were promised. The problem here is that MAST employees were enticed (bribed?) with promises of full pension instead of a hybrid or straight contribution system. If the city says no to the $30 million dollar plan, they will be seeing Local 42 in court. They could lose big, depending on how a judge interprets the contract and "side letters."

Don't be distracted by what individual MAST employees did with their 401K money. A "Rock and Hard Place" situation was created by the City Council caving into the fire union and the desire for power without REALLY STUDYING the idea of taking MAST on as a city endeavor by merging it into the fire department.

Reelect no one from the clowncil. No one from the current City Council is mayoral material either.

The comment is attatched to this TKC post, which has fallen off the first page and probably will not get many more reads, but my comment is the 51 st and the rest of them clearly reflect the frustration of the people (admittedly TKC readers, but still...) with all the spending by government these days. It's getting ugly out there for everyone now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vaccinating Kids in Missouri

The item in the paper this morning caught my eye: "Missouri's low vaccination rate leaves children vulnerable, experts say." According to the article, only 56.2 % of children 19-35 months old have their full set of vaccinations. This compares rather badly with the national average of 70.5%. Missouri's particularly poor performance may have something to do with the amount of money the state makes available for vaccinations, and the amount of people Missouri has to check records of schools and daycares to insure that kids are getting vaccinated as the law mandates. According to the article's quote from a group called Trust for America's Health, only Nevada budgeted less per state resident for public health. Missouri is 43rd in per capita public health funding from the CDC. So we are getting what we pay for. At the same time as this reduction in funding, the number of vaccinations has been increasing. I just took a look at the chart for kids 0-6 and there are eight more conditions being vaccinated for now, then back in the early 1960s when I was 0-6.

There is another factor and that is increasing "vaccination reluctance" on the part of parents to have kids vaccinated. Despite NO scientific support, the idea that vaccines cause autism has strongly taken hold in the popular thought stream. Really, to expand the idea more, the concept that vaccines cause neurological problems has taken hold extremely out of proportion to the actual occurrences. You see this latter when you start talking about flu shots for adults. Everyone remembers the "Swine Flu" fiasco of the late 1970s, and the cases of Guillian-Barre Syndrome that occurred. They were rare, but the reports of progressive paralysis and long recovery time were scary to everyone. Ever since then, vaccines have been under increasing scrutiny by everyone.

The problem with vaccine choice is that an individual's choice influences the whole so profoundly. If everyone decided that they would not vaccinate any one any more, you would see gradual increases in the communicable diseases until they were endemic--and possibly beyond the mere state of being present in the population to an epidemic proportion--beyond the expected amount so that much of the population is infected. If we just have a few people with no immunity, the disease will be confined in how many people it can infect and affect, as most will be immune. Thus a very low rate of disease. There's a tipping point somewhere, that if enough do not get vaccinated, an infectious disease can get a foothold and become endemic.

My main trouble with those who are anti-vaccine is two fold. One is that the whole enterprise takes on the look of conspiracy kookiness, with bogeymen around every corner--the doctor's in the pocket of Big Pharma, the government is hiding data, the government is in cahoots with Big Pharma (most of the conspiracy theories surround the drug companies). The second is the elitist "know better" attitude that anti-vaccine people often radiate. They sometimes act as if they are too clean and too knowledgeable to be felled by a communicable disease.

Vaccination is a risk/benefit decision at bottom. Any time we put something in the body, we run the risk of something bad happening. That risk varies, and we try to keep track of bad reactions and problems so we can stop doing things that seem too risky when compared to other things or doing nothing. It's a personal decision for each family and person to evaluate the use of vaccines for them and their family. However, it's a personal decision that can have profound effect on the entire community. If too many people decide not to vaccinate, there will be an effect on the community. People trying to decide on vaccines should talk to folks old enough to remember the times before vaccines were routinely available, or people with recall of the polio epidemic of the early 1950s.

In the meantime, Missouri should be spending just a little more money on public health. Cutting back here is penny wise and pound foolish. Prevention is always cheaper than sick care.

I blogged on the Flu/H1N1 vaccines last year--that post has some more information about how vaccines work and balancing the risk/benefit ratio for flu shots. Your link:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Observer's New Kitten

A guy who uses the WiFi at the McD's that I often go to went to leave about 17 days ago. It had been storming that day, and more was on the way. He quickly returned inside the store carrying this kitten in his hand. She was all wet on her legs and belly, and shaking. I held her against me as I chatted on FB, and then I took her home. This is the kitten about 15 days later. She's grown, her fur is soft and she is bold and funny. I investigated avenues to find her a home, but everyone has a waiting list. So she's mine, at least for now.

She needs a good name! I've tried out a few but haven't found any I really liked yet. Ideas?

Friday, October 8, 2010

KMBZ Breaks News of Potential Local 42 Lawsuit

980 KMBZ has obtained a copy of the lawsuit that IAFF Local 42 is thinking of filing against the city with regard to the MAST/KCFD pensions. There have been rumors of this coming down the pike due to the hesitation on the part of the City Council over the $30 million cost to the city of fully vesting former MAST employees. Details are still sketchy but basically local 42 is suing the city for failure to follow the contract that was negotiated in collective bargaining.

The Observer has laid eyes on and read the very contract between local 42 and the now KCFD emergency medical service workers. The contract is quite clear as to what was to occur with the pensions. This subject was desperately under examined and evaluated by those pushing for the city/KCFD take over of the ambulance service and that lack of close study is now coming home to roost.

I would be watching very closely how those who are interested in being the next mayor of this city handle themselves around this very political topic that will have consequences for years to come. It is hard to see how the City Council can avoid litigation if they choose to not finance the pensions as specified in the contract.

Big kudos to KMBZ City Hall reporter Bill Grady. Here's the link to the story, and the above picture is snipped from KMBZ's website.

Author's Note: A commenter has already noted that Yael Abouhalkah wrote up the story of the letter from Local 42's lawyer to the City Council and the mayor two days ago warning of the impending law suit. To be honest, I did think I had seen something about this previously but I wasn't sure. It's a pretty big deal for one of the city's most powerful unions to sue the city for breach of contract. It looks to me that Local 42 is looking to gradually ramp up the publicity and pressure, pressing the City Council to pass the needed ordinance to fund the pension for the former MAST employees.

Here's the link to Mr. Abouhalkah's write up: Local 42 threatens lawsuit over MAST pensions

The Observer has vigilant commenters. Added at 1730 10/8

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Musings on Speech

Sometimes I do wish I had Twitter. Everything I'd want to say in 140 characters in a box on the side of the blog. Setting it up looks complicated, so I haven't--need a geek. I've used Facebook that way somewhat and you are always welcome to look at FB to see the short and snappy thoughts.

City Hall has been up to its usual stuff--a little more exciting due to the presence of some protesters exercising their free speech rights. Which brings me to the Ph*lps clan of Topeka, presently arguing before the Supreme Court about the outcome of a civil case that rewarded a military family money from the Ph*lps clan.

There is a right to privacy expected by regular citizens, that their activities will not be infringed upon by others without permission. There is the "yelling fire in a crowded theater" issue--are the Ph*lps' signs and megaphone pronouncements provocative enough to be a safety or life quality issue. Up against that is the issue of free speech. Can we restrict speech in this case and not start the slide downward that puts all speech at risk.

I hate to say it, but I want to err on the side of safeguarding speech. Laws restricting all public demonstration from private moments--distance and volume restrictions--I'm all for those. But if you are standing on public land, and you are not restricting my movements, or my ability to carry on my activities, as much as I hate your stuff, you have a right to say it. I have the concomitant right to have a group of people screening me from you and monitoring your activities.

Ignore the Ph*lps bunch. Eventually, the interbreeding will catch up with them and they'll disappear. Or a major figure in the organization will announce that they are homosexual. Then you'll know for sure that it's just a sad broken family that really needs to get some spiritual and psychological help.

(Using the * instead of an "e", hoping that these publicity hounds will not pick up this post in their Google reader.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Murderer Was Career Burglar

I'll admit I am completely disgusted with this, and find myself thinking thoughts like, "I want the oxygen back that this man has breathed for 20 years."

Antonio Grandison, 20, was a one man crime wave over two years primarily in South KC. The confessed murderer took police on a tour of the Ruskin neighborhood in which he pointed out six homes he had broken into over the past months. The suspect stated to the police that he believed he had broken into over 50 homes in a two year period. Grandison became a murderer when he was caught in a house he was burglarizing for the second time by the home owner. He resorted to violence to get away.

Would that home owner--Nick Dutcher--still be alive today if the police took property crime more seriously? Actually did some work at trying to solve these crimes? My guess is yes because this dude probably made mistakes along the way. I doubt he was the cat burglar.

The reason we have this suspect is that he was careless enough to leave one of his finger prints on Mr. Dutcher's Ford Escape. I would wager that somewhere along the way, he was careless enough to leave his finger prints on a surface in a home he broke into. He might even have left blood or other body fluids around, since he often broke in by violent means by breaking a door or window. He further demonstated his potential carelessness by picking up and disturbing the urns holding loved ones' ashes in two homes, including Mr. Dutcher's--his mother was one whose ashes were disturbed and actually spilled outside by the suspect.

Oh, and as a P.S. his father lives in Ruskin Heights, the area of Nick Dutcher's home. Yo, dude. Did you know your son was a parasite, sucking off the fruits of the labors of your neighbors? If I was a close neighbor of yours, I'd be pissed at you right now. In fact, even though I am not a close neighbor, I am pissed at you. I'm pretty sure your spawn stole the fruits of my neighbors' labor too.

Burglary is a major quality of life issue to me. If a person can't leave their home with a reasonable expectation of returning and finding it intact, that person may find a way to move to a safer place. You had this guy running around for two years essentially supporting himself by breaking into homes, stealing things that others had worked for, and selling them to others for money. I am hard pressed to think of anyone acting lower. He lived by stealing, and then stole the ultimate possession--someone's life. He needs to go away for a long long time. And the Kansas City Police Department needs to realign some priorities--maybe a little less time on traffic issues and drunk driving check points and a little more time on these intrusive property crimes.

Also, I would like to know. Who is buying the TVs, laptops, game cassettes and consoles, and guns that this schmuck and others like him are stealing?

Because Nick Dutcher's blood is on your hands too!

I flat refuse to put this guy's picture on the post. He doesn't deserve it. If you want to see it, check the links.

News links: KMBC: Accused Killer confesses to 50 plus burglaries...KSHB: Nine burglary and theft charges... and Criminologist: Burglars don't usually murder...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gone Pink

If the NFL can do it, The Observer can do it! For the month of October we'll have a touch or two of pink on the blog in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I've been touched by breast cancer among my friends as I am sure you have as well. Remind all the ladies in your life to get checked out on a regular basis!

P.S. Nice win by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Indianapolis Colts, but now the Colts are all mad and will likely take it out on our Chiefs. :(

Photo from

Saturday, October 2, 2010

If You Could Learn to Do Anything, What Would You Learn to Do?

There are two things that I would love to try and see if I had any talent for. I love music. I love singing, and God in His grace gave me a decent ear, a decent voice and a workable sense of rhythm. I don't play any instruments though. I would love to be able to play the acoustic or electric guitar, but given the lack of coordination I exhibit on the typing keyboard, and the fact I struggled with it as a grade schooler tells me guitar might be out of reach. However, I am athletically coordinated, and maybe that might make me suitable for the drums. I would LOVE to learn to play the drums!!!

Doesn't that just look like so MUCH FUN!!

Now, I'm an alto in my singing voice, occasionally I get to sing melody with lower soprano parts but generally I'm singing harmony. Harmony is that thing that no one thinks about but adds so much to a musical number, no matter what the genre or type of music. Bass guitar is a harmony piece in most tunes, (although Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" has a bass part to die for!). Bass guitar is not as complex as rhythm or lead guitar and I might be able to master it. I would LOVE to try!

The bass player is always "too cool for school"!

So that is my musical "bucket list". I don't know if it will even happen, but if you're in the Kansas City area and you see someone in a PT Cruiser playing air drums or the air bass guitar, it might just be me.