Archive for the ‘McCaskill’ Category

McCaskill wrong on sex trafficking

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The Unablogger

U. S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) tried to score political points against her likely Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, by claiming that his remarks about the sexual revolution’s impact on the sex trafficking crisis was somehow anti-woman. The opposite is true.

What Hawley said was that in the 1960s and ’70s (a period of loosened sexual mores that has come to be known as the sexual revolution), it became socially acceptable for Hollywood and the media to treat women as objects for male gratification, and that such demeaning view of women helped fuel current harassment, inequality, and sex trafficking. He criticized the cultural elites for, in Hawley’s words, “denigrat[ing] the biblical truth about husband and wife.” His audience was a gathering of clergy at an event hosted by the Missouri Renewal Project.

McCaskill distorted Hawley’s remarks into an attack on birth control, which Hawley never mentioned and, in fact, supports. She went on to claim that the sexual revolution had created more freedom for women by expanding their access to birth control. As a Boomer who experienced the sexual revolution in real time, Claire should know better. The sexual revolution didn’t cause advances in birth control; it was the other way around. Advances in birth control caused (or at least fueled) the sexual revolution. And this was not empowering to women, because it shifted the perceived responsibility for birth control from men wearing condoms to women taking pills, at least in the minds of many men initiating sexual contact. Eventually, as portrayed in HBO’s Sex in the City, women now routinely protect themselves by carrying condoms for men in their purses.

Note that Hawley cited the sexual revolution as an influence, not the proximate cause, of the current crisis in sex trafficking. He was in fact siding with women against sexual predators. He lamented today’s exploitation of women, which he said was “on a scale that we would never have imagined.”

Beyond rhetoric, Hawley’s record speaks for itself. Shortly after being sworn in as Missouri Attorney General, he created an anti-sex-trafficking unit in his office and sued for allegedly promoting the practice.

McCaskill, though, has justifiable confidence that mainstream media outlets will spin the situation to fit McCaskill’s narrative. Indeed, right on cue, both of the state’s liberal urban dailies, the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Kansas City Star, headlined that Hawley “blame[d]” sex trafficking on the sexual revolution.

Sanctimonious bipartisan grandstanding

The Unablogger

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City)’s ill advised late-night Facebook response to a friend, expressing a desire for the assassination of President Trump, has presented politicians of all stripes a golden opportunity to lay claim to the moral high ground. They uniformly criticize her, which is fair and proper, but most also take the extra step of calling for her resignation and/or expulsion from the state senate.

Before getting to a rational discussion of the senator’s post, I want to call out those who are opportunistically piling on. Republicans calling for her resignation and/or expulsion, including Gov. Eric Greitens and Lt. Gov. Mike Parsons, are acting partisan, seeking to deflect some of the negative press coverage aimed at President Trump over to a high-profile Democrat. Some might say they also want to remove a Democrat vote from the senate for a while, but Republicans already hold a prohibitive senate majority even with Sen. Chappelle-Nadal in place.

Democrats calling for the senator’s ouster, including U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and U.S Rep. Lacy Clay (both D-MO), emit a different, but equally foul, odor. McCaskill, whom CNN (I know, fake news) has tabbed as the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection next year, is desperately trying to portray herself as a fair, even-handed, moderate, even bi-partisan public servant. Her record, especially her repeated votes to block debate on even the most sensible changes to the fatally flawed Obamacare legislation, contradicts that phony image. She sees piling on the controversial, outspoken Chappelle-Nadal as a low-risk high-reward ploy. From Claire it’s a cheap shot.

Clay has payback on his mind. Chappelle-Nadal challenged Clay unsuccessfully for renomination to his otherwise safe congressional seat last year, and Clay is jumping on the opportunity to destroy her credibility in case of a rematch.

The bipartisan piling on worsens a trend that is harming political discourse. Bullies on the left insist that everyone criticize President Trump’s inclusion of the alt-left in blame for the Charlottesville incident, identifying anyone who applies even the slightest nuance, or even remains silent, to be a Nazi! Now politicians are acting similarly towards anyone who dares to defend Chappelle-Nadal. This process intimidates rational discussion.

Nuance is good.

Now the promised rational discussion of Chappelle-Nadal’s post. What should happen is already in progress. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating the incident. They will examine her intent and the possibility that her post might inspire others to take action. I personally believe that Chappelle-Nadal’s post was merely an emotional outburst of hyper-partisanship with no intent either to cause or inspire actual harm to the President, but that’s not my call. If the Secret Service determines that her post is worthy of charges being brought against her, then her resignation and/or expulsion becomes appropriate. Opportunistic politicians jumping the gun and calling for such actions before then are wrong.

Yes, Chappelle-Nadal is being justifiably criticized for her remarks. But calls for her resignation and/or expulsion are not justified at this point.

McCaskill tows party line on Trump’s immigration order

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is following Democrat talking points in opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily halting travel to the United States from seven countries with ties to terrorists. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, McCaskill expressed outrage over temporary delays in travel for certain cherry-picked Muslim travelers and Trump’s direction to give priority to Christians for allowing entrance into the U.S.

The referenced delayed traveler, Hameed Darweesh, is an Iraqi man who had reportedly helped the U.S. as an engineer, interpreter and contractor and who possessed a valid visa. Darweesh was then vetted pursuant to the government’s new vetting process and was allowed to proceed into the U.S. less than 24 hours after arrival. According to the Post, McCaskill said that made her “want to throw up.”

McCaskill’s Republican colleague, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), explained the situation in more measured tones. While noting his own opposition to a blanket travel ban on Muslims, Blunt explained that Trump’s order increased vetting of people traveling from countries with extensive terrorist ties or activity. He properly prioritized keeping Americans safe.

Democrats have falsely claimed that the countries selected by Trump to be subject to the restrictions were selected because of their Muslim majorities, and that Trump had excluded Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and other Muslim countries with Trump business ties. Trump selected the seven countries because people traveling from those countries provide the greatest risk to the security of the U.S. They were the same seven countries that the Obama Administration singled out for exception under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. The Muslim nations with Trump business ties were also not excepted by the Obama Administration under the visa law.

The Post also referred to a McCaskill statement criticizing Trump’s willingness to give Christians facing persecution preferential consideration for refugee resettlement. Apparently McCaskill either didn’t notice or didn’t care that Christians in those nations were disproportionately the victims of Islamic terrorist violence. When ISIS refers to “infidels,” they mostly mean Christians. That is exactly who should be allowed to enter as refugees. Trump’s order was in direct contrast to the Obama Administration’s admission of Muslim “refugees” while leaving most Christians refugees behind to die. The Clinton Administration policy of allowing Bosnian Muslim refugees in the 1990s was consistent with the fact that Muslims were the ones then being persecuted. Priority should be given to identified groups who are at risk of genocide and pose no ascertainable risk to the U.S. It is appropriate to single out specific religions when religion is the motivation of the persecution.

McCaskill is following the Democratic Party line. Her fellow Democrat senators, including those who, like her, are facing tough reelection campaigns next year, followed the same script as McCaskill. Democrats want to characterize everything Trump does as racist or xenophobic, regardless of their merits. Embarrassed by losing an election they expected to win, Democrats are trashing the new president at every opportunity. McCaskill is piling on.

The Libertarian felon is no alternative to Todd Akin

The Unablogger

As I wrote in an earlier post, partisan control of the U.S. Senate probably turns on the Missouri contest between unpopular Democrat incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill and unpopular Republican Rep. Todd Akin. Voters get it that McCaskill looks after whatever is best for the Obama Administration instead of her own constituents, but many remain alienated by Akin’s support for abortion restrictions for a pregnancy that resulted from a rape.

The final poll on the contest by Public Policy Polling shows that Akin has pulled within four points of McCaskill, 48%-44%, leaving McCaskill short of a majority. The only other senate candidate on the ballot, Libertarian Jonathan Dine, drew 6%, with 2% still undecided. Notably, most of those not opting for either McCaskill or Akin appear to be conservative oriented, favoring Romney, 72%-20%. PPP observed, “clearly [Dine]’s pulling from folks who otherwise would have voted Republican. The Dine voters hate Akin- only 12% see him favorably to 67% with a negative opinion. But they hate McCaskill too- only 8% approve of the job she’s doing to 67% who disapprove. If they stay with Dine, McCaskill wins. If they decide the desire for a Republican Senate outweighs their disgust for Akin, then Akin has a chance.”

So, who is Jonathan Dine? For starters, he’s a convicted felon whom Missouri law would bar from the ballot in any state or local contest. (State law may not add additional qualifications (like not being a felon) for candidates for federal office over and above the bare requirements provided in the U.S. Constitution.) In addition to convictions for possession of marijuana (kind of a badge of honor for a Libertarian) and driving while intoxicated, Dine also has a 2005 conviction for identity theft. He favors gay marriage and drug decriminalization, while opposing U.S. “interventionist” foreign policy.

So, let’s get this straight. A set of mostly conservative voters who overwhelmingly and equally (67%) disapprove of both McCaskill and Akin are resolving their conflict by voting for a convicted identity thief who favors gay marriage, drug legalization and a foreign policy the Green Party could endorse?

I am guessing that most Dine backers don’t know about his criminal past or his controversial issue positions (except for pro-pot). The Voters Guide of the St. Louis Post Dispatch makes no mention of Dine’s convictions. Voters just know what Dine isn’t: he isn’t McCaskill, and he isn’t Akin.

Conservatives who are prone to settle on Dine need to consider the broader picture. Their not voting for Akin means victory for McCaskill. And victory for McCaskill most certainly means that Democrats and Harry Reid will keep control of the U.S. Senate, which would allow them to defeat the repeal of Obamacare, let the Bush tax cuts expire (thereby raising taxes across the board), block the entire Romney/Ryan agenda, and prevent Romney from appointing any conservative to the Supreme Court. That’s got to be worse than Akin’s perceived insensitivity towards rape victims.

PPP’s ultimate conclusion bears repeating, “If they stay with Dine, McCaskill wins. If they decide the desire for a Republican Senate outweighs their disgust for Akin, then Akin has a chance.”

If elected, Akin will support the Romney/Ryan reforms that McCaskill would fight tooth and nail. We absolutely need a Republican Senate. We need Todd Akin to be there.

Get over it! You need Todd Akin in the Senate

The Unablogger

The choice for Missouri voters for U.S. Senate this year should be a no-brainer. Incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill’s six-year voting record is a major cause of the nation’s economic doldrums. After having won her seat by complaining that Republican Sen. Jim Talent’s voting with President Bush 90% of the time made him a Bush “rubber stamp,” she turned around and voted 98% of the time in lock-step with President Obama, including for his failed pork-laden stimulus bill and Obamacare, the single biggest threat to future economic development. The senator is also plagued by scandals, including her failure to pay property taxes on an airplane for which she had billed the government for her travel, her family profiting from the stimulus and other federal programs, and questionable business dealings by her husband conducted in the senate dining room. A majority of Missouri voters (51% according to Public Policy Polling, a leading Democrat pollster) disapprove of her performance (compared to just 44% approving). And yet, that poll shows those same respondents favoring McCaskill’s reelection over Republican Rep. Todd Akin by 46%-40%. The latest Rasmussen poll is even worse, showing McCaskill ahead, 51%-43%. (The Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the Post Dispatch, Kansas City Star and KMOV shows a 2-point race with 8% undecided, but its internal demographics look a little too conservative to me.)

The reason for the disconnect between McCaskill’s unpopularity and possible reelection, of course, is reaction to Akin’s insensitive comments about abortions of pregnancies resulting from rape (euphemistically called “emergency contraception” by McCaskill’s sleezy ads). In reality, Akin’s views (which McCaskill chastises as “out of the mainstream”) are shared by 25% of the national population, including radicals like the Roman Catholic Church. Akin is a principled conservative who speaks for many Missouri voters on a host of important issues. But as a practical matter, the thought of being obligated to carry a rapist’s child to term is repugnant to many women voters. Akin promptly and repeatedly apologized, but many voters remain unwilling to grant him Christian forgiveness. PPP notes that its respondents who are undecided in the senate race favor Romney over Obama, 81%-13%.

Another 6% (down from an earlier 9%) of voters in the PPP poll are resolving their distaste for both candidates by supporting Libertarian nominee Jonathan Dine, a convicted identity thief, the only other candidate on the ballot. Most voters would regard identity theft as worse than misspeaking about abortion, if they knew about it. (The Voters Guide of the St. Louis Post Dispatch makes no mention of Dine’s criminal past.) What those voters should understand, though, is that throwing away their votes to Dine would effectively reelect McCaskill.

There are more important issues on which to base one’s vote this year, notably the economy and the need to repeal Obamacare. The way senate contests in other states are shaping up, the Romney Administration will be unable to repeal Obamacare, reform the tax code or pass any significant legislation without Todd Akin in the Senate. Republican control of the senate, which Missouri voters desire by a 7-point plurality in the PPP poll, will likely be thwarted by a McCaskill win.

Even with Paul Ryan as vice-president to break senate ties, Republicans need to overcome the current Democrat 3-seat lead and the likely loss of the Maine seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. The GOP is on target to take the seats of retiring Democrat senators in deep-red Nebraska and North Dakota and in unseating the Democrat incumbent in Montana. A Republican takeover of the open Democrat-held seat in Wisconsin would be the fourth, and former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s chances of taking that seat for the GOP are currently rated a tossup. Once promising opportunities for Republicans to take over  Democrat seats in Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Mexico and Hawaii have faded.

What makes the Missouri contest so pivotal is the senate contest in Massachusetts, a mirror image of Missouri. Incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown is seeking reelection in a Democrat state. Unlike McCaskill, he actually remains popular with his state’s voters, who approve of his job performance by a 49%-42% margin. according to PPP. Brown’s Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, represents the far left fringe of the Democratic party. She has been caught fraudulently gaining employment and promotions with phony claims of Native American ancestry (giving rise to her derisive nickname, Fauxcahontas),  and practiced law illegally without a license for some 15 years. Voters give her a lower net approval rating (49%-45%) than Brown. However, Massachusetts voters also want Democrat control of the senate by a 52%-35% margin, and they now favor Fauxcahontas over Brown, 50%-44% (52%-47% according to Rasmussen, with undecideds trending Democrat).

Massachusetts voters like Brown and don’t care much for Warren, but they are voting Warren in order to maintain Democrat control of the senate. They have their eyes on the prize, and are voting accordingly.

A Brown loss would require Republicans to take a fifth seat in order to seize senate control. Realistically that fifth seat is Missouri.

Missouri voters need to learn from Massachusetts’ example. If Bay State voters can set aside Professor Warren’s fraudulent abuse of minority quotas, her breach of trust in practicing law without a license and her “out of the mainstream” (even for Massachusetts) liberalism in order to effect their desired partisan control of the U.S. Senate, certainly Missouri voters can and should set aside Akin’s poorly communicated views on abortion to accomplish the desired senate control.

Get real, Missouri. You can’t realistically free the nation from Obamacare or unshackle our job creators without Todd Akin in the senate. Keep your eyes on the prize.

The real scoop on gender pay equity

The Unablogger

In last night’s Missouri senatorial debate in St. Louis (seen by almost no one in St. Louis due to conflict with the Cardinals’ game in the National League Championship Series), incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill charged that women on the staff of her Republican challanger, Rep. Todd Akin, were paid less than the men on his staff by a significant double digit margin.

Not mentioned was the fact that women on the staff of McCaskill’s running mate, President Barack Obama, also are paid less than the men on his staff by a similar and significant double digit margin.

Is this a bipartisan war against women? Of course not. The simple, accurate defense of both Akin and Obama is that women on both staffs tended to perform duties whose reasonable compensation was lower. For example, receptionists perform important, demanding tasks that are nevertheless less important and less demanding than the tasks performed by other staffers. Women tend to be hired as receptionists because they are perceived to be better than men at that particular job. And the women hired for that job applied for it and are happy to have it.

Ironically, both Obama and Akin could easily improve their pay  equity numbers by firing their women receptionists and other women holding lower paying jobs and replacing them with men earning the same pay as the women they replace. But that would be worse than the present situations for both officeholders and, in an absolute sense, wrong.

A better idea: end the demagoguery over inconsequential discrepancies in pay equity.

Sarah Steelman is Missouri’s best senate choice

The Unablogger

Three excellent conservatives are seeking to replace President Obama’s Missouri apologist, Sen. Claire McCaskill, in the U. S. Senate. No matter what you hear in negative advertising, each is a reliable conservative. This choice was difficult, but I decided to support former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

Like her primary opponents, Steelman is conservative, and she has demonstrated it. During her tenure in the state senate, she held fast against state financing of  the St. Louis baseball stadium, not blinking when establishment forces threatened to cut funding for the Missouri School of Science and Technology in her district. Steelman didn’t just support the constitutional amendment defining and protecting traditional marriage, she sponsored it. As state treasurer she initiated policies to prevent the state from doing business with businesses serving terrorists. Her financial expertise, as evidenced by her masters degree in finance, will be helpful when the new senate Republican majority tackles the nation’s budget problems. Former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s willingness to endorse Steelman and back up the endorsement with personal appearances in Missouri and recorded robocalls, speaks well for the legitimacy of Steelman’s conservative credentials.

My prior concerns about Steelman’s candidacy have been resolved. While Steelman was originally elected to the state senate with the active backing of organized labor and predominantly Democrat trial lawyers, there is no danger that Steelman will serve those interests in the U. S. Senate. Her 1998 senate campaign was the incidental beneficiary of backlash against an incumbent Democrat of whom Big Labor wanted to “make an example” for straying from the reservation. Steelman thanked them with courtesy public appearances but no substance, and Big Labor doesn’t support her any more. The trial lawyer support was out of respect to one particular trial lawyer, Steelman’s conservative husband David (the 1992 Republican nominee for Missouri attorney general who came within a whisker of beating Democrat Jay Nixon during a very Democratic year). In this election, Big Labor and Democrat trial lawyers fully support McCaskill, and Steelman owes them nothing.

On the practical side, I was initially concerned about Steelman’s “stage presence,” particularly when contrasted with the polished liar McCaskill. But Steelman’s skills have improved. Voters may even identify more with her for being less scripted and unpolished. While I abhor identity politics, Steelman’s high-profile presence, both on the ticket and in the senate, will be helpful to negate the Democrats’ Big Lie that Republicans have a “war against women.”

I am also offended by a tactic of the “Now or Never” Super PAC that runs ads supporting Steelman. The PAC’s name, which runs at the end of every commercial, is designed to convey the false impression that Steelman has the backing of conservative hero Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Knowledgeable conservatives recognize “Now or Never” as the title of DeMint’s recent book, and that he has a PAC that supports a select few true conservatives (like Ted Cruz, the surprise winner of this week’s Texas runoff). I myself was fooled until I checked it out. But DeMint’s PAC (Senate Conservatives Fund) is not involved in Missouri’s primary. The Now or Never PAC is run by financier Rex Sinquefield and is not taking part in any campaigns other than the Missouri senate race. However, there is no evidence that Steelman is involved in any way with this PAC or its tactics, so it would be unfair to hold her accountable for it.

My decision to back Steelman was difficult because, in many ways, Rep. Todd Akin is most deserving of the nomination. He has been a consistent conservative leader in the House, and he has run an exemplary campaign, without resorting to trashing his opponents. The charge that sounds the worst, his “earmark” for a highway that would benefit family land holdings, is absolutely bogus. The road in question is Missouri Highway 141, the new “outer belt” in St. Louis County, which benefits thousands of people the same way it incidentally benefits his family. Akin has “paid his dues” to conservatives. Unfortunately, public gratitude these days has a very short shelf life.

But the bottom line is the need to defeat McCaskill. While recent polling shows all three candidates defeating McCaskill, Akin does so by the smallest margin. But what concerns me the most is how Democrats are actively promoting Akin for the nomination. The McCaskill campaign and Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Majority PAC have devoted thousands of dollars in televised ads trashing both Steelman and Brunner. Their “attack” ads against Akin, on the other hand, use buzzwords designed to appeal to Republican voters, phrases like “crusader” (a positive portrayal to everyone except Muslim fundamentalists), “pro-family” (genuine Democrat attacks ads use the term “anti-choice”) and “Missouri’s true conservative.” The normally loquacious McCaskill has “no comment” when asked about the ads. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which has abandoned any pretense of being anything but a PR arm of the Democratic Party, endorsed Akin in the primary, even while admitting it disagrees with him on virtually everything, taking the opportunity to trash the others. The professional pols clearly believe Akin is McCaskill’s best shot at re-election.

Retired businessman John Brunner originally seemed to be best suited to appeal to a public that is sick and tired of politicians. But his dishonest slash-and-burn televised attacks on Akin and Steelman make him look like the worst of the political class. He makes a positive impression in his positive ads, but in the uncontrolled setting of a debate, he’s not ready for prime time. His pledge to cut spending rings hollow when he can’t name a single specific program he would cut. While he leads McCaskill by the largest margin in current polling, that advantage would likely evaporate when his lack of substance becomes more apparent to voters (with the help of McCaskill’s multi-million-dollar machine). Brunner is too big a risk.

On balance, Sarah Steelman is Republicans’ best choice.

McCaskill rated Missouri’s most liberal in Congress

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

A new, objective legislative scorecard by Heritage Action for America exposes Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) campaign to posture herself as a “moderate” to be nothing but a big lie.

The scorecard, which rates members of both houses of Congress on degrees of conservatism, rates McCaskill with a dismal 5% score, the lowest of all 11 members of Missouri’s congressional delegation. That’s worse (i.e., more liberal) than Missouri’s urban Democrats in the House, Reps. Russ Carnahan (7%), William Lacy Clay (10%) and Emanuel Cleaver, II (14%). Metro East Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) was rated at 18%.

While Democrats can be expected to score poorly on a test that measures conservatism, the apples-to-apples comparison of members of the same party is still quite illuminating.

It’s not just that McCaskill stands out in a conservative state. She rates worse than many of the best known congressional liberals. Heritage Action rated avowed socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) at 10%, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at 15% and former presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) at 20%. Other nationally known liberals rated more conservative than McCaskill included Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA, 16%), Barbara Lee (D-CA, 16%), Maxine Waters (D-CA, 12%), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL, 11%), John Conyers (D-MI, 11%), Charles Rangel (D-NY, 11%) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX, 10%).

In pointed contrast, Heritage Action rated Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who is seeking the Republican nomination to oppose McCaskill for re-election, at 81%. (Senatorial candidate Sarah Steelman was not rated because she is not currently serving in either house of Congress.) McCaskill’s senate colleague, Republican Roy Blunt, scored 72%.

The highest rating went to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) at 99%. The ratings for Republicans in Congress who are currently seeking the presidency are 94% for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), 76% for Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and 68% for Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI).

The Heritage Action scorecard measures voting records on all three facets of conservatism – fiscal, social and national defense. Red State blogger Daniel Horowitz notes that it is “more than just a measure of someone’s personal belief in conservatism; it is a measure of how much temerity a member has to implement his/her beliefs, even if it elicits consternation from their own leadership.” Horowitz also points out that senators, such as McCaskill, should be held to a higher standard than house members, because the Senate is more decentralized, making it easier for an individual member to oppose leadership.

McCaskill, in both formal votes and intangible acts of leadership, has toed the party line, contrary to the interests of her Missouri constituents.

DREAM Act to pit McCaskill vs. McCaskill

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Since the November, 2010 midterm elections, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), President Obama’s cheerleader in chief, has been hitting the national talk shows trying to put as much distance as she can between herself and her party’s unpopular president. But if the so-called DREAM Act comes up to a vote in the lame duck session, we will see where McCaskill’s loyalties lie when the chips are down.

The DREAM Act is the current version of amnesty for illegal immigrants. Under the bill, any illegal immigrant under age 35 who came to the country before he was 16, has been here for five years, and has succeeded in avoiding deportation is allowed to apply for permanent residency, just by saying he or she wants to go to college or join the military. (Like a 34-year-old foreigner would be interested in first joining the military or starting college. Yeah, right.) Absence of documentation means there is no way to verify the applicant’s current age or age at entry, and there is no verification of subsequent entrance into either college or the military. The bill also leaves intact the “chain migration” system that allows illegals to bring in their entire families with them. It’s a sham to open the flood gates.

The current lame duck session is Obama’s last realistic chance to pass an amnesty bill, because the Republican majority that takes over the House in January is unlikely to do so. In the Senate, the lame duck session represents Democrats’ last chance to pass it over a GOP filibuster while needing to draw only two GOP RINOs. But doing so requires a united Democrat majority for the bill, and that includes McCaskill.

When McCaskill campaigned for her seat in 2006 against then-Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), she was an anti-immigration hawk. The non-profit non-partisan web site documented the stands that she put on her campaign web site that year. Here’s what she had to say then about immigration:

This [George W. Bush] Administration has failed to secure our borders. Claire does not support amnesty. As a former prosecutor, Claire believes people who break the law should be held accountable, both illegal immigrants and the employers who exploit them for cheap labor. Claire does not believe we need any new guest worker programs undermining American workers.

McCaskill said this about the proposal to build a fence along the border:

While building a fence along the border in some of our most porous areas is an appropriate first step, rampant illegal immigration will not be resolved until Washington [focuses on] securing our borders [instead of] cheap-labor.

And in an eerie foreshadowing of Arizona’s controversial 2009 law and the Obama Administration’s litigation against it, Claire said this in 2006:

The states have had to unfairly shoulder [sic] the costs of enforcing immigration laws because Washington has been shirking its duty. Claire will fight to make sure our states have the resources they need and to hold Washington accountable for its failures to secure our borders.

Consistent with those positions, in 2007 McCaskill voted against the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill and for a bill to make English the official language of the United States.

But McCaskill changed gears in March, 2008, after she had endorsed Obama’s presidential candidacy. She voted to table (i.e., kill) a bill to create a reserve fund to ensure that Federal assistance does not go to “sanctuary cities” that ignore the immigration laws of the United States and create safe havens for illegal aliens and potential terrorists.

After Obama’s election, McCaskill ramped up into cheerleader mode and enthusiastically backed Obama’s agenda. While her Congressional Quarterly “presidential support index” for 2009 was 80% (relatively low for a Democrat), numbers backing her so-called independence were padded by votes on inconsequential issues. McCaskill was there for Obama to back his controversial bailouts, the failed stimulus bill, the health care takeover and Big Labor’s pet “card check” bill (which wasn’t pulled from consideration until after McCaskill had announced her support).

With her own seat on the line in 2012, whose side will McCaskill take in the lame duck session, the president who needs her vote or the Missouri voters who put her there based on her promises to oppose amnesty? I think it depends on whether her vote is decisive. If the DREAM Act is going to lose anyway, she will pander to the voters and pile on against it, but if her vote is the difference between victory and defeat, Obama can count on her as usual. We’ll see.

Update: On December 18, 2010, McCaskill chose loyalty to Obama over fidelity to her campaign promises, even though DREAM was five votes short on the cloture vote.

Carnahans, Harry Reid linked to indicted St. Louis developer

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

John Steffen, who was indicted this week for bank fraud for a tax credit scheme during the collapse of his Pyramid Construction empire, has a long history as a national Democratic Party power broker. (Note: As they say on Cops, all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.) Major recipients of Steffen’s largesse include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), four members of Missouri’s Carnahan political dynasty, committees funding the Democratic takeover of both houses of Congress in 2006, and President Barack Obama.

Steffen was particularly generous to Reid, whose state is over 1,500 miles away from Steffen’s St. Louis home. In addition to $4,000 in 2004 to the then minority leader’s 2004 reelection campaign, Steffen also donated $17,500 to Searchlight Leadership Fund (Reid’s Leadership PAC) and $15,000 to the Nevada State Democratic Party.

Steffen was a major financier of Democrats’ successful effort to reclaim control of Congress in 2006. In addition to his contributions to the Reid campaign and associated committees, Steffen donated over $83,000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee between 2005 and 2008, another $16,000 in 2005-2007 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and generous direct contributions to the successful 2006 campaigns of Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Nelson (D-FL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (plus over $2,000 to Missouri Victory 2006, which was linked to McCaskill) that were key to the party’s success in winning control.

Steffen was an early and generous supporter of President Barack Obama. In addition to donating the maximum legal $4,600 to Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007 (when the “smart money” was still behind then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)), Steffen donated $4,323 to Hopefund, Inc., which Politico reported in 2007 worked in concert with the Obama presidential campaign by contributing to key officials in early primary states, giving money in hopes of winning their support.

Other notable recipients of Steffen money include the 2004 presidential campaigns of both former Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and the Iowa Democratic Party in advance of Gephardt’s unsuccessful campaign in that state’s presidential primary.

In Missouri, Steffen was especially generous to the Carnahan Dynasty. He contributed a thousand dollars to the late Mel Carnahan’s 2000 senate campaign, $2,000 to the unsuccessful 2002 re-election campaign of former Sen. Jean Carnahan, $2,000 in 2003 to the successful 2004 congressional campaign of Rep. Russ Carnahan, and a like amount in 2005 to his 2006 re-election campaign. Robin Carnahan received $1,175 in 2003 for her 2004 campaign for Missouri Secretary of State, with like amounts from at least two corporate members of The Pyramid Group. All of those contributions represented the maximum legal amounts at the time they were made. Corporate contributions are legal for campaigns for state office, but not federal office.

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) received over $7,000 from Steffen in the form of maximum legal contributions for campaigns in 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008. Steffen played both sides in the contentious 2004 Democratic gubernatorial primary, making maximum legal donations to incumbent Bob Holden in 2002 and to his conqueress, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, in 2004. Other notable Missouri recipients include Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), former State Treasurer Nancy Farmer’s unsuccessful 2004 senate campaign against Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), and former Secretary of State Bekki Cook’s unsuccessful campaign for Lieutenant Governor (against current Lieut. Gov. Peter Kinder). On the local level, key Steffen recipients included St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, St. Louis Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, and License Collector Mike McMillan.

Steffen made occasional Republican contributions, but even those usually displayed a Democrat twist. Steffen made a courtesy $1,000 contribution in 2005 to Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), who is married to Democrat power broker Ron Gladney. Steffen donated $2,000 to the late Sherman Parker’s 2006 Republican primary challenge to Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), fueling Democrat hopes of wounding the popular Akin. Not yet explained is Steffen’s surprising $10,000 donation to the Missouri Republican State Committee in 2005. I’m sure there’s a story there; I just don’t know what it is. Yet.

Steffen’s latest political donations ($28,500 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and $2,300 to Rep. Lacy Clay in 2008) were made when he was already in financial distress. Respected (and expensive) St. Louis bankruptcy attorney Steven Goldstein, whom Steffen engaged to negotiate settlements with Pyramid’s creditors, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Steffen has earned no income since 2008 and “likely can’t afford a criminal attorney for his fraud case.” Perhaps if the politicians would return the over $200,000 (conservatively speaking) he has given them in political contributions in the past decade, he could afford a lawyer. Otherwise, taxpayers left picking up the tab to defend this Democratic Party financier.

Predictably, reports on Steffen’s indictment by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Riverfront Times, and the St. Louis Business Journal made no mention of his important Democratic Party ties. Two of them, though, went out of their way to note that Steffen had received an award from President Bush.