Talking Politics

Tuesdays at 4:45 p.m.

Commentary: Permanent Interests

May 18, 2018

At Columbia College I teach and study American domestic politics.  I know only enough about foreign policy and international relations to be dangerous.  That said I willingly acknowledge that foreign and domestic policy are inseparably intertwined.  President Trump is betting that foreign policy successes will benefit him politically at home.  More about this in a minute.

Commentary: Is The Blue Wave Really Coming?

Apr 30, 2018

Recently I was asked if I had difficulty finding topics for these commentaries.  I said: “You’re kidding, right?”  Politics in 2018, to quote General Norman Schwartzkopf from the 1991 Gulf War, is a “target-rich environment.”

One topic that fascinates me is the prediction of the Blue Wave coming in November – Democrats will take back the U.S. House and keep Senate losses to a minimum, or possibly even pick up a seat or two, including holding Claire McCaskill’s seat.  Evidence presented includes:

Commentary: Jason Kander's Prospects

Mar 21, 2018

Even though it’s been a year and a half, you probably still remember the best ad from the 2016 election campaign:

Despite all the bad press, the Republican Party is riding high, holding more state legislative seats and governorships than any time since 1922.  They control all three elected branches of the national government.  By contrast, Democrats are fractured, leaderless and outvoted at every turn.

The GOP is certainly not without problems.  The Trump base is, shall we agree, firm.  But it’s only one-third of the electorate.  Establishment Republicans lurch between taking advantage of their current dominance plus Democratic disarray and plotting Trump work-arounds, often very cynically.

Evangelicals, 81 percent of whom voted for Trump, are discredited by their tolerance of Trump’s stormy assortment of misbehaviors.  Republican women are especially conflicted.


Commentary: A Political Book Review

Jan 29, 2018

If you live in Columbia you may know Larry and Jan Grossman.  They are respected business people and their son Matt, who graduated from Rock Bridge, is a respected political scientist who teaches at a Big Ten university.  Matt is a prolific author of textbooks, including one I have used for years in my political parties classes at Columbia College.


A year ago last week Donald Trump was officially chosen president by the Electoral College.  Had 77 thousand voters in three states – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – voted for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, Ms. Clinton would have not only won the popular vote by three million, she would also have narrowly won the Electoral Vote. 

In September, President Donald Trump announced he would end a federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The program was created in 2012 when then President Barack Obama signed an executive order.

DACA protects nearly 800,000 people around the United States who were brought here as children without documentation, giving them a chance to work or study without the risk of deportation. Missouri has about 3,500 DACA recipients, and nearly half of them are students.

KBIA’s Hannah Haynes talked with a young DACA recipient to find out how the program has changed her life and what the Trump administration might mean for the program going forward. 


Commentary: Premature Celebration

Nov 29, 2017

Earlier this month, according to many in the media, Democrats held an election and – guess what?  -- they won.  They won governorships in New Jersey and Virginia and made big gains in the Virginia state legislature.  Much has been made of this – Democrats are back, went the narrative.

Commentary: Soccer and Foreign Policy

Nov 14, 2017

  President Trump’s Asia trip makes me think of – soccer. I love soccer. Columbia College has two nationally-ranked teams and I’m a big fan. I help my daughter coach a recreation league team here in Columbia that my granddaughters and grandson play on. I coached youth soccer for many years when we lived in Kirksville.

Meiying Wu / KBIA

At the heart of the use tax measures Boone County residents will be voting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, is online shopping.

Local store around the country must compete with out-of-state retailers as more people shop online. Many of these out-of-state online businesses do not have to pay local sales tax, allowing them to sell some products for lower prices.

 


Talking Politics: Boone County Reviews Bids for New Inmate Phone System

Oct 25, 2017
Di Pan / KBIA

Boone County began reviewing bids this week for a new contract for its inmate phone system in the county jail. The county is looking to overhaul its current system after critiques of the high costs to detainees and their families making calls.

County jails across the state contract with private companies to provide phone services for inmates, in return the jail gets a cut of the phone charges.

Commentary: Gerrymandering and the Court

Oct 17, 2017

The Supreme Court is back in business after its summer recess.  It is hearing oral arguments on several cases that have landmark potential.  Perhaps the most consequential is Gill v Whitford, a Wisconsin case about gerrymandering.

  Congress missed the deadline to delay federal funding cuts to hospitals last week. Without a solution, many Missouri hospitals could be hit hard.

The Disproportionate Share Hospital Program, also known as “DSH,” is a federal funding program that helps offset the costs for hospitals that serve uninsured patients.

Commentary: Summer Reading

Sep 26, 2017

  Hillary Clinton has written a book about the 2016 election entitled What Happened. I was going to say that it picks at a big scab on the body politic, but scabs assume wounds have healed. The 2016 election is still an open sore for many Americans and Clinton’s book is – how shall I say this? – not medicinal.

Talking Politics: Police Chief Ken Burton Gives His Take on Racial Desparity in Traffic Stops

Sep 19, 2017

Traffic stop data released by the Missouri Attorney General's office shows a disparity between black and white drivers in Columbia, but not everyone agrees as to what the numbers mean.

Black drivers in Columbia were pulled over at a rate almost four times higher than white drivers in 2016.

Some local groups, like Race Matters, Friends, say this is clear evidence of racial profiling and called for changes in the police department. Some have even called for the resignation of Police Chief Ken Burton, who has voiced skepticism about the traffic stop data.

The Columbia Missourian’s Katherine Reed and Noah McGee spoke in-depth with Burton to get his take on the data and how the department can be improved.

In this episode of Talking Politics, Professor Mark Horvit explains what’s in store for Missouri lawmakers as they meet for their annual veto session this week. Mark Horvit is a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and leads the school’s state government reporting program.

Of all the vetoed bills, one of the most talked about is a measure that would fix funding cuts to in-home and nursing home care for seniors.


Commentary: Trump is Not a Republican

Sep 5, 2017

These commentaries are a team effort. I can’t thank KBIA staff enough for their production support: Ryan, Sarah, Nathan, Beatriz and Kyle by name. If you enjoyed the recent Beatles commentary, thank Kyle Felling.

 

Commentary: Mind Your Own Business

Aug 16, 2017

As children we were all told by someone – another kid, a parent, a teacher – to “Mind your own business.”  Usually good advice, not always heeded, of course.  Kids who frequently didn’t mind their own business often grew up to become lawyers.  Just kidding.

If you’ve been listening to these commentaries for a while you may remember the three musical commentaries in 2008.  The 2008 presidential campaign was explained by, in turn, the Beatles, Disco and Classic Rock.

Well, the Beatles are back and will tell us all we need to know about the last year in American politics. Just listen:

Commentary: The GOP's Big Issue Under the Surface

Jul 4, 2017

Republicans are riding high.  They hold the presidency and both houses of Congress.  They are four for four in special House elections.  Congressional Democrats are not even good obstructionists, not to mention getting any of their legislation passed.

Commentary: Wendy Noren Did Her Job the Right Way

Jun 20, 2017

In the last six months Boone County has seen two exemplary public servants step down.  In January Karen Miller left the Southern District County Commission seat she had held for 24 years.  Last week Wendy Noren resigned from her position as Boone County Clerk after 35 years.

Commentary: Trump's Imprint

Jun 14, 2017

Please indulge a few seconds of personal history.  One of the reasons Columbia College, where I teach, has prospered in recent years is its online program.  I have been heavily involved in online from its first days in the late 1990s and now teach online classes.  I also update courses previously developed by other faculty.

As I speak I am redeveloping our online class on the presidency.  There are some, uh, challenges in updating a college course on the presidency in the summer of 2017.

Commentary: Two Wacky Weeks

May 19, 2017

Remember Pope Benedict the Sixteenth?  I’ll return to him in a moment.

The news is so dynamic just now.  It’s like waiting for the next shoe to drop from a centipede – not when but how many?  The humorist Dorothy Parker had an appropriate phrase: “What fresh Hell is this?”  

Commentary: GOP Prospects

May 9, 2017

In the wake of the House passage of Obamacare repeal and replace legislation and all the premature triumphalist rhetoric coming from some Republicans I want to explore where the Republican Party is heading.

Commentary: Democratic Dilemmas

Apr 18, 2017

Here are three things Democrats should not do if they want to regain the majority.

They should not be like Donald Trump and use profanity in public.  Last week it was reported that the Democratic National Chairman said in public one of the words you can’t say on TV, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said one of the other ones, in its gerund form.  Lots of Millennials talk this way and for some reason Trump can get away with talking this way.  But “I am authentic because I am vulgar” is not a winning strategy for Democrats.

Commentary: The Fragility of the Trump Rebellion

Mar 30, 2017

During the 1991 Gulf War military commanders kept talking about a “target-rich environment” in Iraq and Kuwait.  And indeed it was.  And so is American politics in 2017.  There is no shortage of subjects for analysis.

So forgive me for returning to the same one repeatedly: President Trump.  My shorthand for explaining Trump – or at least describing him – I’m not sure anyone can explain him – still works.  In seven words: won’t change, doesn’t care, not a Republican.  Interestingly, this shorthand is also beginning to describe Trump supporters. 

Commentary: "A Proper Funeral"

Feb 14, 2017

An important part of the research I do for these commentaries is to listen – to my students and coworkers at Columbia College, at my church, over my dinner table.  Last summer and fall I was hearing.  But I wasn’t listening.  Had I actually been listening I would not have had Hillary Clinton all elected and inaugurated.  It was an embarrassing and humbling experience.  Here is – hopefully – a reset.

I watched President Trump’s inaugural speech with three things in mind: He won’t change, he doesn’t care what you think, and he is not a Republican – and wondered: Where have I heard this speech before?  Oh, right -- I heard the long version of it last July, when candidate Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president.

If, as the old saying goes, past performance is the best predictor of future behavior, then I have a pretty good idea of what we can expect from President Trump. 

Sarah Kellogg/ KBIA

A month has passed since Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. In these past few weeks, many Democrats and even some Republicans are wondering how this happened. Author Thomas Frank visited the University of Missouri a couple of days after the election and offered a few explanations.

Frank believes that there is no one complete reason as to why Trump won the nomination, but he believes that Trump understood how many Americans felt going into the election.

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