commentary

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.

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.

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. 

Next week I’ll give you most of my predictions for key elections.  I’ll give you one today: Hillary Clinton will win the presidential election. 

I realize this revelation will send few of you to the fainting couch.  Most observers are predicting this outcome, and with good reason.

I have my reasons as well and I thought I’d look back at how I’ve been tracking the presidential race from this spot on the dial over the last year.

Last October I said: “Candidates who have the best organizations usually prevail.”  Yes, that’s one of the reasons Clinton will win.

Poor white people have been in the news a lot lately.  Most obviously they are a target voting group and natural constituency for Donald Trump.  But they are also the subject of some interesting recent non-fiction books.  One memoir entitled Hillbilly Elegy by a guy who grew up in rural Kentucky is actually a best seller, and a couple of others have had a real impact on how people think about this very large group of Americans.

Have you noticed one of the side effects of reality TV?  I guess people actually watch “Naked and Afraid” and “My 600-pound Self”.  I only know about these shows because I surf past them on the way to professional cage fighting and Real Housewives of Las Vegas.  Just kidding about cage fighting.  But seriously, this programming makes voyeurs out of normal people, but more importantly, causes them to think differently about their social and political worlds.

rickbrattin.org

Editorial from KBIA News Director Ryan Famuliner

Mother Jones published an article Wednesday about Missouri House Bill 131, a bill proposed by Republican Rick Brattin from Harrisonville. It’s mandatory reading for what follows to make much sense.

Down 7-3 in the eighth inning of the American League Wild Card game, it seemed inevitable, even fitting, really. The Kansas City Royals waited 29 years to return to the postseason, only to be swept out in a one-game wild card playoff that has only existed for three years. The loss would have cut deep, like they always have in Kansas City. At least that I can remember.

Islespunkfan / Flickr

At the first major league baseball game I ever saw, as a Cub Scout in old Sportsmans Park in north St. Louis, Stan Musial got his 2500th hit, a home run.  I became a Cardinals fan and a Stan Musial fan that day.

Commentary: Owning up to election predictions

Nov 15, 2012
Vox Efx / Flickr

Time to check my election predictions.  Even though they were a group project – three good and knowledgeable friends helped – I take full responsibility.

Vox Efx / Flickr

You may have heard of the Electoral College.  If certain unlikely but theoretically possible election scenarios play out tonight, then in the near future you will hear more about the Electoral College than the law should allow.

Commentary: The Polls

Oct 30, 2012
so Sara says / Flickr

Here’s a political quiz:

Which of the following is more annoying?

  1. Non-stop attack ads on your TV
  2. Public opinion pollsters calling your phone
  3. Both of the above are equally annoying

C is the correct answer, unless a pollster calls during dinner, in which case the correct answer is b.  Or if it is a female calling, it would be a pollstress, I suppose.

Commentary - 2012 election predictions

Oct 23, 2012
Marjie Kennedy / Flickr

I need to clarify a point I made in my last commentary.  When I said contributions to campaigns can be limited I was referring to federal campaigns --  President and Congress.  There are four states in which there are no limits on contributions to state campaigns – governor, state representative, etc. – and Missouri is one of the four.  Rex Sinquefield has given millions of dollars to candidates in both parties – because he can.

selbstfotografiert / Wikimedia Commons

Why is so much money spent on campaign advertising?  Why can’t it be restricted?  Why can’t the U.S. have elections like Britain or Canada, where campaigns last about five weeks?

Tonight when you say to your TV: “If I see one more negative ad I’ll scream” and then you see two more before the words have left your mouth, think of the acronym:

                                                                       FOGGY

Commentary: The Mayor and the "Bogeyman"

Sep 19, 2012
The U.S. House of Representatives / The White House

Two small items in the New York Times from the Democratic Convention caught my eye.  The first was that Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, is now leading a Democratic SuperPac, one of those new types of fund-raising organizations, trying to pry big dollars loose from liberal donors.  Some of these donors have refrained out of principled opposition to SuperPacs.  Others have more personal reasons.  For example, George Soros has taken a pass because he could not get face time with President Obama.  So it will be a tough sell.

Commentary: The Democratic National Convention

Sep 11, 2012
firedoglakedotcom / Flickr

I again asked students in my American Political Parties class at Columbia College if President Obama’s acceptance speech was a success and if it changed their minds about him.  Of the six who sought the bonus points, four went in supporting Obama and none changed their minds.  Most comments were about the emotional power of the speech and how good a public speaker he is.  The criticisms were of the lack of specifics.  One was very positive despite her feeling that he had made little progress on his promises from four years ago.

Commentary: The Republican National Convention

Sep 4, 2012
Lig Ynnek / Flickr

Okay.  What’s the deal with Clint Eastwood at the Republican Convention?  Dirty Harry said, at the end of one of those movies: “A man’s got know his limitations.”  Eastwood should have taken Dirty Harry’s advice.  What were the Republicans thinking?