Talking Politics

Tuesdays at 4:45 p.m.

Certain affordable housing projects in Missouri have until Oct. 31 to take advantage in $140 million in tax credits. But nonprofits and developers are concerned the state board charged with approving the tax credits won’t act in time.

The 2019 Fiscal Year is right around the corner for  Columbia and city council is working to finalize the budget. This includes major amendments to current city employee wages.

This week 5th Ward Councilmember Matt Pitzer sits down to discuss proposed wage changes for city employees and other budgetary concerns for the 2019 fiscal year.

What changes are being made to the fiscal year 2019 budget for wages?

Commentary: Missouri's Confused Political Culture

Aug 21, 2018

I am about to conclude that the reason we are called the Show Me State is because we Missourians are confused about our identity and need someone to show us who we are.  I’ve lived in Missouri most of my life and am as curious as anyone.

Commentary: Youth and Politics

Jul 31, 2018

My wife Jane and I have four adult children and eight grandchildren, all brilliant and talented, of course.  Both of us have fulfilling professional careers that we value, but our family is our priority, and it is a deeply child-centered clan.

Recently we saw the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?, about Fred Rogers’ wonderful PBS program for children.  We were both inspired by and nostalgic for the days when his vision of childhood was mainstream and also sobered by the knowledge of what too many children these days must endure.

Commentary: Trump and the Communications Revolution

Jul 11, 2018

Two of the marvels of the modern age have directly impacted the developing world.  One is the Green Revolution, using artificial fertilizer to dramatically increase crop yields and keep billions of people from starving.  The earth is severely overpopulated, but mass starvation is not currently a problem.

The second marvel is how cellphone technology emerged at a moment that kept the developing world from having to spend billions and billions of dollars to build telephone landlines and other infrastructure.  In Africa, Asia and South America cell towers and phones are making landlines redundant, if not obsolete.

This communication revolution made me wonder if another communication revolution that is the spawn of cell technology is an explanation for the Trump Phenomenon.  Before Barack Obama, presidents communicated with their publics through traditional media: televised speeches, news conferences, press releases – all of it mediated by professional journalists.  Obama was the first president to use social media, and he used it most effectively in his two election campaigns. 


Commentary: Greitens and Trump

Jun 19, 2018

In early 2016 I watched the presidential and Missouri gubernatorial campaigns with great curiosity.  After the April GOP debate in Columbia not only did I believe that Eric Greitens would not be the nominee, I was fairly sure the most traditional candidate, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, would be.  During the spring GOP presidential candidate debates I did not know who the nominee would be, but I was fairly sure it would not be Donald Trump.  Silly me.  Silly lots of us.

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.

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