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Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine asserted Thursday that the Republican emphasis on the proposed mosque near New York's Ground Zero, and the growing inaccurate belief that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, "confirm a narrative" that the GOP is "whipping up fear and division" in the hope that such destructive tactics will win votes.

"The party of 'No' is wanting to go backward," Kaine told reporters after addressing national Democratic officials during today's "executive committee" portion of its two-day meeting in St Louis.

Theories have limits. Some account for phenomena quite well when applied within given parameters, only to fail miserably when expanded beyond them. Ironically, it is often the more limited theory that appeals most strongly to common sense. Consider the case of Ptolemy.

Ptolemy (ta-le-mi) was a 2nd-century astronomer who, like virtually all of his contemporaries, believed that the heavens revolved around the Earth. This geocentric conception of the universe worked quite well for the ordinary living of his day. In fact, it still does.

Federal prosecutors in complicated white-collar cases that end in mistrials often win convictions the second time around, according to a study by Washington University law professor Kathleen Brickey. Brickey, an expert on white-collar crime, pointed to the study in the wake of the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial that ended in a mistrial on 23 of 24 counts against the former governor and a conviction on the other count of lying to FBI agents.

Two local Illinois state representatives have issued their reactions to Tuesday's verdict in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jay Hoffman is known as a longtime ally of Blagojevich; Ron Stephens is a longtime critic. Both voted to impeach Blagojevich in January 2009.

Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville:

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's one-count conviction Tuesday could reinforce the state's "cynicism virus" -- or galvanize voters to take action in the November elections, says the head of a watchdog group that pushes for political reform in the state.

State Rep. Cynthia Davis will still wield political clout, even though she lost her Republican bid for the state Senate.

Davis, R-O'Fallon, confirmed this afternoon that she has been elected chair of the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee, effective immediately. The vote, conducted Tuesday night, was unanimous, she said.

Davis' selection for the unpaid but powerful post underscores the clout of the Tea Party movement in St. Charles County.

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, has gone on the air with her first campaign TV spot -- which features her in jeans talking about jobs, blasting Washington and "the government."

Emerson, who has been in office since 1996 and remains Missouri's first and only Republican woman elected to Congress, offers up an outside-the-beltway image as she heads into her latest re-election bid.

Republican congressional candidate Ed Martin condemned late Tuesday the suspected arson attack on the campaign headquarters of U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay appears to be the first prominent Missouri politician -- Democrat or Republican -- to weigh in on the national debate over the proposed construction of a new Islamic center and mosque in New York.  

The proposed site is just a few blocks away from Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center towers stood before they were destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people (in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.).

Democrats in Missouri are abuzz over today's report in Politico, the national online politics site, about the "$22 million TV ad blitz" soon to be launched by the National Republican Congressional Committee in 40 House districts around the country.

No Missouri House seats are among them, despite frequent national GOP assertions that U.S. Reps. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, and Ike Skelton, D-Lexington, are among their targets.

A top official from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is accompanying the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, U.S Rep. Roy Blunt, around the state today to emphasize the chamber's commitment to help the congressman from southwest Missouri as he seeks to succeed another of their favorites -- retiring U.S. Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond.

Photo by Rachel Heidenry | Beacon intern

Donald Stastny said designs must work with the power and unpredictability of the river.

Want to swim in a pool in a floating pavilion in the Mississippi River near the Gateway Arch? Or ride high above the river in a gondola taking in panoramic views?

How about an attractive, safe way to stroll across traffic from Citygarden and the Gateway Mall onto the Arch grounds -- or pass a beer garden or ice skating rink to get to Chouteau's Landing south of the Arch?

At a "prayer vigil" held Monday night by his allies, state Rep. Brian Nieves blamed his legal troubles on unnamed "kingmakers and the powerbrokers in the state of Missouri" who he contends want to block his likely ascension to the Missouri Senate.

"They want to hang me up like a scarecrow," asserted Nieves, R-Washington, to at least 150 people attending a riverfront rally in downtown Washington, Mo. The crowd frequently broke into cheers and standing ovations to show their support.

Under the separation of powers of the U.S. Constitution, activities not enumerated fall to the purview of the states. Such it has been with the jurisdiction of family law. Each state has enacted laws governing marriage, adoption, and sexual activity.

Amid state and national handwringing among Democratic officials and the faithful, Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine are headlining a meeting of national and regional Democrats in St. Louis later this week.

Illinoisans have experienced a governmental tsunami without fully realizing it.

The toll mounts daily, and so do the odds against robust recovery. It's not just the smothering deficit. It's not just the lack of political will to confront and correct it. It's also the insidious mangling of a management structure crucial to the effective expenditure of our tax dollars.

While the jury in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial took the weekend off, court watchers had time to read between the lines of the jury's cryptic note to the judge and to reflect on the Blagojevich trial strategy.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was quick to thank the U.S. House Tuesday for its vote in favor of a bill allocating $26 billion to the states to stem projected teacher layoffs and Medicaid cuts, in the wake of the continued economic downturn.

In Missouri's case, more than half of its expected share will go toward the next fiscal year's budget, said state Budget Director Linda Luebbering in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

With legal fights looming, state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, is becoming more visible and vocal in defending himself against accusations that he threatened and assaulted a campaign worker for a GOP rival.

The first related court hearing, originally set for Thursday morning in Cole County, has been postponed until Sept. 2.

Missouri's two major nominees for the U.S. Senate -- Democrat Robin Carnahan and Republican Roy Blunt -- are launching new campaign efforts as they head into the final dog days of August.

And both camps are focusing on Blunt.

Carnahan has just gone up on the air with her campaign's first TV ad, which is running statewide. Although allied groups have run ads attacking Blunt (an indirect benefit for Carnahan) since late last year, this is the first spot that the Carnahan campaign is paying for.

She sits in a small conference room at her lawyer's office. It's mid-morning, hours before she heads to a popular downtown St. Louis restaurant, where she buses tables. Maria isn't her real name, but what she's requested we call her for this story. She's 32, small, with short brown hair and big silver hoop earrings. She's a mother to four, an employee, a daughter and a sister.

And she's undocumented, meaning she has no legal status in this country, which is why we're calling her Maria instead of her real name.

Oh see, CC Rider, oh see

What you have done...

On a brutally hot Tuesday in early August, about 22.9 percent of Missouri's registered voters went to the polls to deliver their verdict on ObamaCare. For the Democrats on Capitol Hill who'd struggled so valiantly to reform health care, the results were less than encouraging.

With pollution closing some Lake of the Ozarks' public beaches, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster plans to hold a symposium next week on the lake's water quality problems.

Gov. Jay Nixon is to kick off the two-day gathering, set for next Wednesday and Thursday.

According to Koster's office, "The purpose of the public symposium is to explore the total range of water quality issues confronting the Lake of the Ozarks today and over the next 20 years."

The latest news from the investigation of sudden acceleration crashes indicates that something is amiss -- but not necessarily with Toyotas.

While the federal safety investigation continues, it might be time to consider what the episode demonstrates about another important institution -- not the auto industry but the media. As the Beacon's editor and a longtime journalist, I find the matter perversely instructive.

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, and his 3rd District Republican rival -- lawyer Ed Martin -- have agreed to debates, although they haven't agreed on how many, when or where.

In fact, Martin has announced a series of three weekly debates in August, beginning next Tuesday. Trouble is, Carnahan wasn't consulted and doesn't plan to show up.

The trouble with Florissant, says state Auditor Susan Montee, is that there aren't many Missouri communities like it.

Florissant has what is called a "strong mayor" form of government that many area mayors may covet (notably, the last half-dozen St. Louis mayors), but most don't have.

Tuesday night, Montee outlined the findings of her office's exhaustive and expensive audit of Florissant's city government, conducted at the behest of petitioning city residents.

U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., swiftly registered his sorrow today over the death of a longtime former colleague, former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

Stevens, 86, was among five who died in a plane crash Monday in his home state. Stevens lost a bid for re-election in 2008 following a corruption conviction, which was tossed out last year.

Said Bond: "Like all of Ted’s friends and family, Linda and I are shocked and saddened by this tragedy.

I have long believed that we should instruct our politicians:

Ask not what programs you can enact to burnish your legacy -
Ask what programs you can repeal to set our people free.

The recent dust up over the extension of unemployment benefits has given me an idea.

Kent D. Syverud
Washington University photo

Kent D. Syverud, dean of the Washington University School of Law, has been appointed as one of two independent trustees of the $20 billion Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust fund established by BP to settle claims for damages from the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In an interview with the Beacon Monday, Syverud said he understands the importance of the position.

“It is a public responsibility, and I care about it and understand the importance of it,’’ he said. “I will do my best.’’

To succeed, small businesses need fertile ground in which to grow as well as protection against predators and unfair competition. Whether we like it or not, government plays the role of "traffic cop" in our economy; ensuring for everyone, including small businesses, that we are headed in the right direction and avoiding calamitous outcomes.

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