Archive for August, 2006

Survey says?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Like any good political scientist, I prefer to rely upon anecdotal evidence rather than scientific data when passing judgment upon others. Fortunately, both methodologies jibe with each other somewhat when talking about the census numbers released this week.

Click here to follow along.

First, the good news: Missouri’s SAT scores continue to be higher than the national average. This is misleading, though, as the only students taking the SAT in Missouri are the ones expecting to get into top-tier schools (most college-bound students in this state take the ACT instead). But then again, why should anyone put any weight on the value of a standardized test? The SAT is obviously biased against minorities (1), which is why the nation’s top universities don’t use it as a primary criterium for admitting students. (2)

The fact that Missouri ranks near the middle of the “poor” rankings is somewhat disappointing. I really thought we had done enough to rank higher. Oh, well … there’s always next session’s Medicaid cuts.

The worst news is that Missourians have gotten significantly fatter in the last year. This makes sense to me, considering that just about every twenty-something woman I know got married last year, and you know what that means. Also, as your local television station has reminded you ad nauseum for the past week, there are still a number of Katrina refugees living in Missouri. Their presence undoubtedly inched our obesity numbers upward, seeing that they don’t seem to miss many meals.

Not to get all preachy on you, especially before a big feeding weekend like Labor Day, but the obesity numbers represent a serious problem for all of us, and especially for the black community.

Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control show that 77.5 percent of black women are overweight (compared to 57.0 percent of white women). The same study reports that 49.6 percent of black women are obese (compared to 31.3 percent of white women). In popular terminology, overweight = “healthy”, “big-boned”, or “thick”. Obese = “fat”. (3)

As a white male, I realize that my people are responsible for most of the evils facing the black community — black-on-black violence, unemployment, drug abuse, absentee fatherhood, Kevin Federline — but I can’t accept the credit for obesity.

I don’t see Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton spending much time talking about the black obesity epidemic, so there’s certainly a niche to be created by some ambitious black leader who’s willing to do something more than just complain.

Some of us are born “slower” than others, and might never get a perfect SAT score. And there are undoubtedly some poor people who actually want to work, but have physical or mental limitations that keep them from doing so. But there are very few people who could not, if they really wanted to, find the resolve to take the stairs or eat one less box of donuts every morning.

I hope our obesity numbers improve in the next year. Let’s eat less. Let’s exercise more. And if that doesn’t work, let’s at least keep those Ernesto refugees out of our state this year.

(1) Except for Asians and Indians, who it’s obviously biased in favor of.

(2) Oh wait, they do? I wonder why.

(3) “Big-boned” people: do not e-mail me to argue about BMI vs. body fat, because I know more about it than you do. Seriously.

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Blunt’s positives

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

While I tend to disregard even the most constructive of criticism, I got an e-mail a few weeks ago that got me thinking. A friend asked a relatively trivial question about a link I had posted on johncombest.com, but the main thrust of his e-mail was this: Why am I so hard on Matt Blunt?

Of course, I always respond to those types of complaints, from Rs and Ds alike, by pointing out that I don’t make the news — I just link to it.

But my friend was right — I don’t spend enough time pointing out the good things about the Blunt administration. And there are a few.

As explained a couple weeks ago, those of us Republicans still considering voting for Matt Blunt in 2008 should be glad that Ed Martin is starting Friday as the governor’s new chief of staff. Let’s keep the positivity going and look at the good stuff Ed has to work with:

A focused political team. As previously mentioned, Blunt’s HARRIS (to Hell with All Republicans Residing In St. Louis) Plan was criticized in 2004 by many of us on this side of the state, including your favorite blogger’s favorite blogger. But the focus on outstate counties proved successful — energy that might have been wasted on Dem constituencies was channeled toward our base. To this day, the Blunt team realizes that as long as Republicans control the executive and legislative branches, there will exist a political underclass that is not happy unless they’re unhappy. The Blunt team is content to let such chronic malcontents jibber-jabber on low-wattage radio while the governor stays focused on implementing his agenda. A wise move.

Spence Jackson. Any honest political spokesperson (1) can be no better than the facts at his disposal. Those who criticize Spence should look at what he has had to work with and tell me what more he could have done to positively spin the myriad of ethical charges levied against the administration. Spence is at his best when he is dismissing the Democrats’ whiny, sour-grapes complaints for what they are: whiny, sour-grapes complaints. Spence is not so great — how could he be? — when he’s forced to explain dumb mistakes made by others in the administration. Give Spence less to apologize for in 2007 and we’ll all be talking about what a great job Matt Blunt is doing.

Also, you know that I never, ever, under any circumstance, claim to speak for anyone but myself, but I speak for every single Missouri Republican when I say that Spence was everybody’s favorite Blunt campaign guy. (2) The fact that he’s stuck around probably keeps some people from completely disavowing his boss.

A strong political machine. Sandra Thomas’ victory in the GOP auditor primary proved that the Blunt machine can still turn out nearly 30% in a crowded race. You can bet everyone from Mitt Romney to potential gubernatorial candidates to your local GOP county chair took note of the results and will remember them as they make their plans for 2008.

More to come.

(1) I know, I know. Just play along.

(2) I know, I know. But still.

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Republican Unity Breakfast

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

I read DeAnn Smith’s post on KC Buzz Blog about the Jackson County Dems’ “unity breakfast” and I got to thinking: Why don’t Republicans ever do this?

I think part of the reason you rarely hear about Republicans engaging in these types of photo ops is because we’re genetically predisposed to value substance over style — and how much actual fence-mending can take place with cameras and reporters around? Also, a majority of those who would theoretically participate in such an event are current or former campaign operatives, who according to a recent poll are unable to admit their own mistakes and whose self-centered nature makes compromise impossible. (1)

But I have to admit that the Dems may be on to something here. What would happen if Republicans in every county would gather for the sole purpose of burying old grudges and unifying their factions for the upcoming election?

A few days after the primary, I participated in a sort of “unity breakfast” with individuals from a rival campaign, and I found the process to be both cathartic and productive. (2)

I’m sure every county has warring factions that are still butting heads over old slights. So as the kids say these days, let’s squash the beef.

The St. Louis area alone could have one heck of a unity breakfast. A special early session could be held exclusively for South County women, most of whom probably cannot remember what they started fighting about anyway. (3)

And if we do it, let’s do it big. Invite St. Charles County to cross the river and take part, too, since most of those guys used to live in North County. Attendance will be free, but the speakers and food of the highest quality. We’ll even invite a non-threatening black guy to say the prayer or sing a song like we do at all the top-dollar events.

Honestly: How many silly rivalries that you know of (or are a part of) were caused by simple miscommunication? (Note: The ubiquity of e-mail plays a part; sarcasm and brevity are often misinterpreted as slights.) How many of those flames could be extinguished if the parties involved had a sincere conversation based on a genuine desire to move forward?

Whaddya say? Let’s do a unity breakfast. Consider this post my RSVP.

(1) Survey of my ex-girlfriends, conducted 1994-2006.

(2) In this case, the “unity breakfast” was held at night, and the courses were all liquid. But you get the picture.

(3) Not an Alzheimer’s joke per se, but if the Maidenform fits …

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This Week in Blogging

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Those of you who do not work for the government probably spend less than 40 hours/week reading Missouri political blogs. So I took the liberty of reading them for you.

With apologies to the late Mel Allen, here’s This Week in Blogging:

MayorSlay.com has a new look. Is Slay the only elected official in Missouri to blog? I think so. (1)

Katie Favazza is promoting a project to pay tribute to the 2,996 victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Jeff Roe was the first to report that Todd Smith (2) was resigning from the Missouri House.

Roy Temple + YouTube = bad news. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

Tony Messenger is on the panel for the Talent-McCaskill debate in Springfield. He wants your suggestions for questions to ask the candidates.

Dave Drebes graciously provided you non-St. Louisans with the latest copy of the Arch City Chronicle. Dave’s site also took a closer look at the results of the Jeff Smith victory in a two-part post.

ArchPundit doesn’t think All Children Matter spent their money very wisely in the primaries.

Tim Hilton gave his opinion on the Willie Nelson-Claire McCaskill silliness. I think we’re on the same page.

Randy Turner found an update on former state Sen. Marvin Singleton.

And of course, too much good stuff to list from the P-D Political Fix, KC Buzz Blog, CDT Politics Blog, and the KY3 Blog.

(1) Press releases posted to a campaign website do not count as a candidate blog.

(2) No relation to the other Republican Todd Smith.

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