Brownback Wants You--

To procreate--if you're a woman.

An old story, from the April 12, 1999, edition of the Topeka Capital Journal has the headline: "Brownback: Abortion Partially to Blame for Social Security Woes." At the time a U.S. Senator, Sam Brownback, came to Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, to speak to college students, high school students, senior citizens, and anyone else who had the noon hour free to listen to him.

I was still teaching at Butler. I was free between classes to go to the all-purpose room to hear what he had to say. I am the "older woman" who called Brownback out when he said women who got abortions were responsible for the shortfall in Social Security. I don't remember what he said in response to my remarks. I had a one o'clock class to get to, so I didn't hear any follow-up.

The New Kansas Education Czars

Recently, Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Board of Education member sent an opinion column, "New Teacher Policy Benefits Students." to state newspapers justifying their move to allow Kansas public schools to hire uncertified teachers for the six schools that applied for innovative school district status. The uncertified teachers would come from the ranks of "industry professionals."

I started teaching in 1965 in a Michigan country school. By then, I had enough credits to make me a college sophomore. I did not have enough credits to be certified as a teacher. Even so, the school, run by a few farm parents and uncertified by the state, hired me. I lasted one year. That's all it took for me to realize that that those students deserved a teacher who knew what she was doing.

According to an article in the Wichita Eagle Sunday, June 21, 2015, Sen. Michael O'Donnell and other Republicans who voted to raise consumption taxes may be vulnerable in the 2016 election for Kansas Legislature.

The article by Bryan Lowry, Eagle Topeka Bureau, quotes O'Donnell as saying he "has a target on his back" after voting "last week in favor of HB 2109, which increases the state's sales and cigarette taxes, among other things." O'Donnell says he voted for the bill because it included a sales tax cut on food a year later.

Even so, O'Donnell isn't the only Republican feeling the heat for voting in favor of what several news sources are calling the largest tax increase in the history of Kansas.

Every morning, I go out to the porch and pick up the Wichita Eagle, a paper I have subscribed to ever since I moved to the Wichita area in 1974. My husband joins me in reading the morning newspaper. He reads the sports section while I start with the first section and read through to the comics and puzzles.

Ever since Sam Brownback became governor of Kansas, the headlines on the front page of the Eagle have been a cause for consternation. After he won a second term, with a bunch of right-wing legislators following behind him, reading the front page news has become even more of a horror story. Edgar Allen Poe couldn't have written it any better.

Straight Shooters in Topeka

One quiet morning in my sunlit living room, I heard it on the radio, from Reuters. "Kansas Senate to consider Senate Bill 45, to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit." Hair raised on the back of my neck. Black clouds sent the room into darkness. Trying to remain calm, I stuck my head outside. Nope, no armed ruffians patrolling the streets, yet. But knowing how hastily our legislators have acted on bad ideas before, who knows? They could be out there. I silently mused at the irony of calling it Senate Bill 45. Why not SB 30-ought-6? Or SB Ak-47? Or SB M-16?

With a sigh of relief, I found they hadn't passed it yet. But then, sitting right there in my calm, weapons-free, quiet living room, I pondered, and had a revelation. The clouds parted. Light hit me, blinding as Saul's on the Road to Damascus. We Kansans are smart, so we surely elect smart people. My careful analysis finally detected the method in their madness.

Think of the benefits! My friend, for example, hates bureaucracy, so he's dead set against getting a permit. With this law passed, no problem. Weapons are easy enough to find. And here's a solution to his pesky neighbor dog barking till all hours of the night. Simple. One well-aimed shot should do it. If the neighbor objected, well, my friend would still have his peacemaker at his side--but hidden, of course, in case he really needed it.

If the neighbor's a faster draw or better shot, well, that's kind of immaterial, in the larger scheme of things. As we all know, our legislators have their eye on the larger picture, and so should we.

It's a pure matter of the free market measuring out beneficial outcomes, without the clutter and fuss of regulation and the cost of hiring government employees or law enforcement to oversee or enforce such regulation. Humans can sort out situations like this, or as some say, God will do it.

No, this innovative legislation is aimed at the larger economy. Clearly, the legislators envision more expansive horizons. Imagine for a moment the whole vast new industry of shops gearing up for more detailed weaponry training. Quick-draw would be a new skill, but people would pay, say, $500 a pop. Simple marksmanship could bring $250.

Training could occur on new shooting ranges, like the one recently denied a permit in Saline County. With the new law in place, neighbor's objections to such ranges would certainly be beaten back. It could become a weekend sport as popular as boating or baseball.

People compelled to keep their skills updated would guarantee a constant flow of income for entrepreneur gun and ammo salesman, trainers, shooting range operators, and a new category, camouflage experts. Granted, some customers might die, but simple fear would guarantee a continuing flow of new customers.
And we entrepreneurs could cash in. Given Kansas' new no-tax campaign to encourage business growth, I could incorporate, start partnerships with concrete companies, and build underground shelters featuring a year's supply of food and water. My patented new innovation: a rotating, bullet-proof-glass, gun turret. This would allow customers to take out pesky neighbors or hungry, angry area refugees coming for my shelter and supplies. They'd be no match for my perimeter alarm system.

After all, if Kris Kobach can profit, why not us? Kobach already cashed in on his new M-16-like Minute Man assault rifle, kept free from federal regulation by the Kansas 2013 law he helped write. He's no fool, so I'll buy some of Kris's guns to arm my gun turret. That way, we can both share in the profits, tax-free.

I am so proud of this legislature. They simply cannot be outdone in their effort to make us a free people. That is, I thought so till this morning, when I read that Oklahoma is considering a bill to allow guns into the halls of their legislature. Oklahoma's free-wheeling legislation will allow enforcement of the people's will--and right now! Why can't Kansas pass such fine laws?

It's all fun to watch, but it's the weekend and I'm bored. Till next week's legislative session, I guess I'll just go back to my calm, weapons-free, quiet living room, make some tea, listen to music, read, and wait for Armageddon to finally get here. Or write Sam Brownback to tell him how grateful I am that he got rid of those pesky moderates.

Legal Weed in Kansas?

Last year, a group from Wichita worked to garner enough signatures on a petition to get the question of legalizing marijuana in Wichita on the November 2014 mid-term election ballot. When Esau Freeman, one of the group's leaders, took the petition to Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, she ruled that not enough of the signatures were valid. This, even though the ballots were counted in secret, so no one really knows for sure that this was the case. However, this is an issue for another blog.

This time Freeman and others made sure they got only the signatures of registered voters who were Wichita residents, a requirement for the issue to go on the ballot.

Justice ?

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth! That seems to be the nature of man. There is never an ending to the violence, so long as that is considered the solution.

Ferguson is on fire after the Grand Jury decision. The violent protestors can't even claim their reaction is 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth'. It is simply hooliganism that will bring great harm to those who honestly believe the Grand Jury did not weigh the evidence fairly. It justifies the use of physical and even lethal force from the law enforcement department to protect life and property.

Our system provides recourse for appeal through request for Federal investigation. Like it or not, we are a United States of America and our constitution empowers the Federal government to intervene, if evidence shows inequitable protection of human rights and property by State or Local governments. It also protects State and Local governments from armed rebellion from whatever source.

The community of Ferguson doesn't need outside agitators, politicians, or, religious leaders. What they need is level headed presentation from both white and black leaders, from within the community. The term 'level headed' excludes the radical extremists of either racial or religious leaders.

Common sense and history reveals that injustices occur. Whites in black communities suffer from prejudice and blacks in white communities suffer from prejudice. Racial and religious prejudice is evident in most every society.

Survival is a natural instinct in every living organism. We, humans, are taught, by our experience and the advice of other's experiences, to be wary of others who are different from ourselves. If we learn to tolerate each other and overlook minor infractions or differences we find ourselves being able to share and enjoy relationships that benefit all of us. Sibling rivalry is a natural instinct. If not controlled, it can develop into prejudice that destroys a family. Control can come from several sources. Other siblings, parents, and peers can intervene. Society can intervene in the racial prejudice and violence that is present in Ferguson and around the country.

Kansas Women: The Breeder Class

Katha Pollitt, longtime Nation Magazine "Subject to Debate" columnist, has a new book out, How Pro-Choicers Can Take Back the Moral High Ground. I've read an excerpt of the book in The Nation, and I would like to buy the book, read it, and share it with my pro-choice friends.

In Kansas, the only thing that changed in the 2014 midterm elections was that the state legislature became even more infested with anti-choice legislators. Rep. Pat Sloop's loss was one of the disasters we suffered. Rep. Sloop, now in her 70s, has been a longtime fighter for women's abortion rights and stood up for women against anti-choice zealots in the Kansas House. Other pro-choice advocates, Rep. John Carmichael and Rep. Ed Trimmer did keep their seats. Carmichael won handily over his anti-choice opponent, but Trimmer pulled out only a 17-point victory over his fundamentalist church backed opponent.

With people like Mary Pilcher Cook, she of the pregnant-woman-behind-the-sheet sonogram in a House committee room fame, still in the Kansas Legislature, the going will be tough for those who believe women have the right to control their bodies and their lives. Hiding a pregnant woman behind a sheet is a good metaphor, in fact, for what happens to many women when they get pregnant.

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