Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: October 2009


Out of the Mouth of Babes

LARNED, Kan. - My wife noticed a phenomenon involving our two year old son. While they were walking at the mall, he would spontaneously shout "Barack Obama!" Pleased, but embarrassed by the unsolicited outbursts, she called me from her cell phone to report the incident. I reasoned that it must have been due to viewing so many pictures and television appearances of the newly elected president. She agreed, but wondered what triggered the behavior.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - In Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, Leonard Zeskind provides a thorough and detailed, 542-page, historical account of the mainstreamers and vanguardists that make up the racist movement. Like Zeskind himself, a Kansas City native, many of the key players in this movement hail from our Midwestern state. Several key events surrounding these movements also happened in Kansas.

The 1982 Self-Reliance and Survival Expo is one of those Kansas events. In this setting, Christian Identity groups and Survivalists came together in Kansas City. Gun and knife shows are a tradition in the Midwest and South. This show welcomed survivalists, as well as a group called the Covenant the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA). What could the CSA offer audiences at the Kansas City Self-Reliance and Survival Expo? "For a fee, white (Christian) men could shoot machine guns at pop-up figures, knock down doors, and battle around mock buildings while tires burned to simulate urban riots" (61). Hardly the self-defense tactics typically touted at gun and knife shows.

Likewise, the Midwestern farm crisis provided fertile ground for The Posse Comitatus in the 1980's. This group was considered mainstream enough to have their own time on Kansas airwaves. "Gale joined Wickstrom in this crusade, and taped 'sermons' by the two Posse leaders were regularly broadcast on a Dodge City, Kansas radio station in 1982" (74). With an audience of listeners, no wonder Kansas was the site for a Posse Comitatus training assembly. "That same year Gale and Wickstrom organized a paramilitary training session on a farm near Weskan, Kansas, just across the border from Colorado" (74).

EMPORIA, Kan. - Holton, Andale and Hugoton are the only undefeated teams in class 4A, but there should still be some great match-ups before the final game.

Early Round
Ulysses (5-4) at Wellington (6-3)
Wellington survived a scare last weekend at Chaparral, and survived a weak district. Ulysses was in a tough district and played a tough schedule all season, if there is going to be an early round upset, it will happen here.
Prediction: Ulysses 27-17

EMPORIA, Kan. - Another big bracket, this one contains some of the state's top low classification teams. There are some great match-ups late and couple of good early rounders, let's take a look at them.

Early Round Fun
Osage City (6-3) at Central Heights (4-5)
Upset alert, Central Heights it the higher seeded team, but Osage City came out of one of the toughest districts out there. The Indians should earn the win here, but face a tough test on the road.
Prediction: Osage City 34-17

EMPORIA, Kan. - In 2-1A there are a lot of good teams to talk about, so we'll just look at the good match-ups in the first and late rounds and the eventual state champion.

Intriguing First Rounders
Troy (5-4) at Valley Falls (5-4)
Troy is coming off a big win at Wathena to make the playoffs and with both teams entering at 5-4 one could likely move on a guarantee a winning season.
Prediction: Troy 21-10

There are a lot of lower seeded teams that enter week one with a losing record, most of the intriguing match-ups will come later on in competition.

EMPORIA, Kan. - In 8-man Division I, the play this season has been exciting and there are some great match-ups as we head into state play.

Week One Match-Ups
Madison (8-1) at Baileyville B&B (9-0)
Madison Coach Fred McClain said in today's Emporia Gazette that he relished the fact that for once the expectations weren't on his team. Madison has been the top seeded team for three straight season's, this year they get to go on the road and play a team that is expected to win. Henry Ott is back at Quarterback and looked last night like he may have gotten his stride back. If Ott has a good game Madison could surprise B&B here.
Prediction: Madison 48-45

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The only reason a state legislator would do an outlandish YouTube rap video is because he wants attention. And the only reason a sitting Congressman would shout "You Lie!" to a sitting U.S. President is because he wants attention.

And they want attention from people who can help them stay in office: their base. And nothing fires up the base more than the hated opposition lecturing the person. I suspect that Rep. Bill Otto, upon hearing that his redneck rap video was being publicly criticized by prominent Democrats thought to himself: "They took the bait. Fantastic."

And once Rep. Joe Wilson apologized to Rahm Immanuel for his "You Lie!" outburst, he saw nothing but upside from the incident among his base, especially after the opposition wanted to censure him.

Famed Republican consultant Lee Atwater famously said: "Never interfere with your opponent when he is in the process of self-destruction." Perhaps Democrats should consider letting the actions of oafs speak for themselves. Because once the opposition starts "moralizing" , the offender gets lionized by his base, with lots of private "attaboy's" at the barber shop, and lots of fresh campaign cash rolling in.

EMPORIA, Kan. - Eight man two has been a two pony race most of the season, with Hanover and Victoria favored and nearly going wire to wire. However, Victoria lost in district play and now Otis-Bison has emerged as someone to watch. The East half of the bracket features some intriguing match-ups as does the West, overall this could be a very fun bracket to watch.

Week One Intrigue
The teams get started with Tuesday match-ups next week. Here's a match-up by match-up prediction and breakdown for week one.

Wilson (4-5) at Hanover (8-1)
Hanover's only loss came to 8-man one's top ranked squad in Baileyville B&B, and should win easily here against Wilson who fought their way out of a weak bracket.
Prediction: Hanover 55-7

Benefits for Murderers?

COLBY, Kan. - How in the name of religion (whatever the flavor) can we imagine society organizing benefit fund raisers for the defense of an individual's unilateral judgment and execution of another human being? Especially if it is premeditated! The murder of Dr. Tiller was not an act carried out in an emergency situation that indicated immediate danger for anyone.

Society cannot tolerate individual privilege of being judge, jury and executioner, nor can we tolerate lynch mob justice.

In the Christian's New Testament, Jesus refuted the idea of 'an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'. You may have a little trouble interpreting those words with how we interpret some of the early history of God's Chosen People of the Old Testament. But, never the less, Jesus indicated revenge or returning evil for evil was not what His Gospel was all about.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Yesterday, Judy Thomas of the The Kansas City Star reported that eBay corporate officials would not allow an eBay auction to go forward. The auction has been planned by abortion opponents who wished to raise money to help in the defense of Scott Roeder, 51, who is charged with first-degree murder. Roeder is accused of killing Wichita abortion doctor, George Tiller. Tiller was shot last spring while standing in the foyer of his church. Even from his jail cell, Roeder has warned that "similar events" of violence would continue.

The online company's action followed a week of increasingly vocal outcry against the auction (Rhonda Holman: WE Blog, Mike Hendricks: Prime Buzz, RoederWatch, etc). The company provided a statement, yesterday, saying that the intended auction violated its policy against "offensive material" and that it would "not permit the items in question to be posted to the eBay site." The company added that the items would be "removed if they are posted."

The Kansas City Star had reported that "an autographed copy of 'A Time to Kill,' a memoir of a man who served time for firebombing abortion clinics, is one of the likely offerings. So is a manual from the 'Army of God,' which advised people on ways to close clinics, including by bombing."


COLBY, Kan. - Lucy Belnora, KFP journalist, offered a well-researched analysis of the House bill, H.R. 3961, that was unveiled and posted on the Internet today.

The new House bill is likely to be viewed more favorably by more voters than the Senate bills because of its inclusion of an all-states (not opt-out) public option plan.

That prediction is largely based on national polls that indicate the majority of Americans are in favor of a national public option health care plan.

Already, advocacy groups on the right and left are reacting to the bill.

SALINA, Kan. - Allow me to share this exciting news with you - today, the U.S. House has unveiled its plan. This bill will reform our broken health insurance system and includes a strong public option. But first, I'd like to begin by reviewing what's happened in Washington the last few weeks.

The History

All eyes had been on the U.S. Senate as its two health care reform bills emerged from committee. Those who favor public option haven't expected much to come from the Senate in the way of real reform in the way that health care is financed or in its costs.

Senator Baucus (D) heralded the first of the two Senate bills - the one without the option of a public plan. Although Baucus worked hard to tailor his bill in such a way that Olympia Snowe (R) could vote in favor of it, that first senate bill encountered noticeable and expected backlash from other Democratic senators and from the grassroots because of the lack of public option (examples here, here and here).

Strangely, the powerful insurance lobbies that had backed the bill from the start, ended up coming out against it, too. Why?

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Political races are the only contests I can think of with no referee to punish bad behavior. In basketball, if an opponent trips you on your way to a game winning layup, you get foul shots. In jury trials, if an opponent introduces inadmissible or misleading evidence to a jury, a judge can grant a mistrial. In baseball, a pitcher throwing spitballs is ejected, often banned for months.

But political elections in Kansas are unique. There are no refs, and there are no Kansas statutes criminalizing lying in political campaigns. In a close race, a candidate's conscience is his only guide, as Jimmeny Cricket would say. And conscience alone doesn't stop candidates like Sam Brownback from a "win first, apologize later" mode of operation.

One lawyer who requested a mistrial based on prejudicial evidence told the judge: "You can't throw a skunk into the jury box and expect the jury not to smell it." And Sam Brownback knows better than most that you can throw a skunk into a ballot box at the last minute with no possibility of punishment or a do-over. It's winner take all.

EMPORIA, Kan. - So we're at District final weekend, this is what to watch for. I'll denote whether the game is on Thursday or Friday. Hope you get to enjoy some.

6A

District 1
Shawnee Mission West at Shawnee Mission East (Thursday Game)
East had more touble against Shawnee Mission North and Shawnee Mission Northwest, but it is at their home field and the district championship is on the line. West has had a potent offense while East has gotten it done defensively, should be fun to watch, plus a rare high class Thursday match-up. I give the edge to East, if their offense starts rolling it could be a long night.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Kansas Democrats feel a little lost right now. In his book What's the Matter with Kansas? author Thomas Frank may be pointing the way to the Promised Land by means of the quintessential Kansas political movement: Populism. Frank suggests that old-fashioned Populism is the classic Kansas way, and that three-time Democratic Presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan had the right idea for Kansans "raising less corn, and more hell."

Although it was Kansas lawyer Mary Elizabeth Lease who uttered the famous phrase about "raising more hell," Thomas Frank sees the Nebraska evangelical William Jennings Bryan as the most attractive populist out there. One of the most memorable sentences in his book regards the McKinley-Bryan election of 1896: "Bryan was a Nebraskan, a leftist, and a fundamentalist Christian, an almost unimaginable combination today." (p. 16)

Thomas Frank gives a thumbs up on the dust jacket of the recent book by Michael Kazin on Bryan: "To understand the politics of our own time we must first understand William Jennings Bryan. Michael Kazin gives us an elegant study of this forgotten but seminal figure, a hero to liberal and evangelicals alike." (A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan, 2006).

So how could someone be a hero to evangelical Christians and Democrat progressives at the same time? As strange as it sounds, it make sense that one committed to the actual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as revealed in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John might tilt toward a progressive politics on some issues.

COLBY, Kan. - Today, women now earn 60 percent of the college degrees awarded each year and fully half of the Ph.D.s and the professional degrees. Almost 40 percent of working women hold managerial and other professional positions. Women make 80 percent of the buying decisions in American homes. Companies led by women generally are proving to have healthier bottom lines. This is a permanent change in our culture.

There's far more occurring here than simply a change in workplace demographics. In the preface of the recently released study, The Shriver Report, Maria Shriver offered the goals for the report:

We decided we needed to learn some new, hard facts about today's American woman. Who is she? How does she live? What does she think? What does she earn? What are her politics? How does she define power? How does she define success? What does she think of marriage? What does she really think of men? How does she want to live her life moving forward?
The project combined the efforts of The Center for American Progress and Shriver's Women's Conference.

Jasper and the Economy


Amelia Earhart
GREAT BEND, Kan. - Hilary Swank doesn't have two "Best Actress" Oscars sitting on her mantle for nothing. And her performance in Amelia (2009) brings such flesh-and-blood realism to the life of Amelia Earhart that I left the theater feeling like I knew Earhart - almost like she was a girl I went to college with or something. Swank is incandescent as Earhart.

Of all Kansas heroes, two stand apart: General Eisenhower and Amelia Earhart. Ike succeeded wildly in a man's world. And so did Atchison native Amelia Earhart. Early in the film the child Earhart is shown running through a Kansas wheat field, marveling at an airplane, and vowing that she will someday fly.

The film is about many things: dreams, feminism, marriage, airplanes, but it is mostly about an incredibly gutsy Kansan who succeeded on a scale difficult to imagine. At the age of 34 she became the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo.

TOPEKA, Kan. - We're on the verge of something historic - both the House and the Senate are closer than ever to passing meaningful health insurance reform. Yet, this fight is far from over, and, in Kansas, special interest groups and far-right legislators are already gearing up to derail the process on a state level:

...some of our leaders in the State Legislature are already on top of it. Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook and Reps. Brenda Landwehr and Peggy Mast will hold a series of press conferences Tuesday to announce their sponsorship of bills to exempt Kansas from any federal health reform legislation.

Whoa -- hold your horses. Kansas Republicans are already ready to block "any federal health reform legislation" before we even know what the final legislation will be. So, in response, we've launched KansasDeservesReform.com -- an online petition to pledge your support for real reform in Kansas.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Dare to imagine a world where people matter more than corporate profits; where economic development is planned and carried out with respect to the natural systems; and agriculture produces food that is consumed locally with a broad biodiversity of choices. Impossible? Dr. Vandana Shiva thinks it is within our reach.

On October 16th Shiva brilliantly lectured on the interconnectedness of humanity's most urgent crises - food security, peak oil and climate change in a public lecture entitled: Soil, Not Oil: Food Security in an Age of Climate Change. Approximately 800 people filled McCain Auditorium at Kansas State University to hear the lecture sponsored by K-State's Women's Studies and Agriculture programs along with numerous other campus and community organizations.

WICHITA, Kan. - Friday night, Wichita State University's feminist group FOCUS (Feminists On Campus Uniting Students) will be hosting an event at the CAC Theater from 7:00 pm -10:00 pm. Join us in celebrating and supporting a woman's right to choose while enjoying local folk and rock n' roll music!

Artists: Michelle Monger, Degenerate List, Justin France

Speakers: Peggy Bowman, Kari Ann Rinker

Organizations: WSU FOCUS, Peggy Bowman Second Chance Fund, Kansas National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Missouri

Click here to RSVP on Facebook to attend this concert!

TOPEKA, Kan. - Just as "Bleeding Kansas" was effectively the first theater of the Civil War, Kansas also played a major role in setting the stage for the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. Kansas' pivotal role in both of these historic struggles - or two parts of the same struggle - is underappreciated.

At 1515 Monroe Street in Topeka is a quiet, modest looking school building that seems to be barely noticed even by Topekans. It was formerly the Monroe Elementary School, but today it is a museum under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, Secretary of the Interior. Monroe School was made a national monument by an act of Congress in 1992 in recognition of its importance as the site where the historic 1954 lawsuit Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka originated. When the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court it led to the decision that legally ended segregation in public schools in America. The museum opened May 17, 2004, on the 50th anniversary of the decision. The museum now houses a multi-media exhibition that takes visitors through the history of the struggle against segregation with a lively presentation of pictures, artifacts, videos, movies and displays.

HAYS, Kan. - The month of October is the "National Domestic Violence Awareness Month." President Obama's proclamation expressed its importance, "A family's home becomes a place of fear, hopelessness, and desperation when a woman is battered by her partner, a child witnesses the abuse of a loved one, or a senior is victimized by family members. ... During this month, we rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence. ... we recognize that domestic violence can be prevented. We must build the capacity of our Nation's victim service providers to reach and serve those in need. We urge community leaders to raise awareness and bring attention to this quiet crisis."

Here in Kansas, Jana's Campaign is dedicating its efforts to doing exactly what the president has called for. Its goal is to move the issues of domestic violence to the top of the political agenda in Topeka in this next legislative session. The organization is advocating for more comprehensive legislation in Kansas that will enhance victims' services, prevention and treatment programs, while providing real accountability for offenders.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Innocence Project, according to their website, "is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice." I first learned about the Innocence Project through some posts that Gerald Britt has posted at EverydayCitizen.com (here, here, and here). Gerald has shared some of the successes of the Innocence Project of Texas, including stories about its freed exonerees and some of its funding woes in these tough financial times.

Then, recently, I was pleased to learn that we have an Innocence Project that serves Kansas, The Midwestern Innocence Project (MIP). The local organization has worked to free six wrongly committed individuals so far, including three from Kansas City.

In Defense of Economics

HAYS, Kan. - I always read Walter Williams, economics professor and right-wing syndicated columnist with an overlapping interest in constitutional scholarship. I am amazed at his skill as a propagandist for the right, never telling an actual lie, but supporting the right-wing agenda by careful omission and innuendo. Williams often leaves the reader with the impression that American corporate capitalism is the same as "free enterprise" or the operation of the "free market." He leaves the impression that economic transactions between individuals and other economic entities in the modern United States of America are the same as the transactions Adam Smith described in his Wealth of Nations (shortened title). No doubt Williams has read Adam Smith. Most who refer to the "unseen hand" concept resulting from Smith's work have not. Here is some of what Williams omits (apparently intentionally, in order to serve his ends):

WASHINGTON - Politico has a story today about the Kansas Congressman with real C Street "Fellowship" credibility, Jerry Moran. We've previously reported the indelible ties of Sam Brownback and Todd Tiahrt to the C Street "Fellowship" (here, here, and here). But, according to Politico, the Kansas Congressman that has really benefited from his close association with C Street is Jerry Moran.

Moran, who, along with KS-04 Congressman Todd Tiahrt, is engaged in the race to succeed Sam Brownback in the United States Senate, has received many more notable endorsements in his bid for the Senate seat, especially from sitting United States Senators.


WICHITA, Kan. - The 7th Annual Tallgrass Film Festival takes place this weekend in Wichita.

It is a 3 day Independent film festival taking place in 6 different downtown locations. It is the largest film festival in Kansas and features over 100 films. Visit the website to purchase tickets, see the schedule of films, you can even plan and create your personal schedule for the weekend.

This will be the third year that I will be attending the Opening Night Gala. It always features an excellent film followed by a fun after party with food, an open bar and entertainment. Tonight's Gala features a film called The Good Indian.

What Do You Read?

DODGE CITY, Kan. - Did you ever wonder what shapes people's opinions about their country, their politics, or their world? I suspect that, for most of us, the answer is, "It's what we watch, listen to, and read." For others, it may be simply whatever their parents, family, or friends believe. For those with the latter choice, one probably can't do much to change their outlook. For the others, it might be interesting just to ask people you meet, "What do you watch, listen to, and read?" I'd be interested in what is read, watched, etc. by the folks who read Kansas Free Press.

For openers, I'll tell you some of my choices. On TV, I watch MSNBC, you know: Countdown, Rachel Maddow, etc. Of course they "lean left" (only I call it "practice progressive thinking"), but I get so fed up with the so-called liberal media, which it is NOT. I listen to NPR with All Things Considered to get the real news and I like to watch The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on Public TV.

What to Watch for: 10-23 Edition

EMPORIA, Kan. - It's a Friday night in Kansas, district play is firing at all cylinders and it's an amazing night to be a sports fan. If you're setting their thinking about what it is you should watch tonight, allow your liberal sportsman to let you know where you should go.

Western Kansas

Otis-Bison at Victoria

I could have gone with Hutchison vs. Hays here, but I once told a young man, that 8-man football can be just as fun to watch as the big boys. This game should be fun to watch, Victoria has been amazing so far this year, at 7-0, but the Cougars of Otis-Bison have also played well. I think Victoria will win, but Otis-Bison can really make a statement here and earn a spot in the playoffs outright.

EMPORIA, Kan. - So here are the districts to watch at the 4A and 3A level. We're one week and looking for who's going to end up on top.

CLASS 4A

District 1

Someone requested a look a Holton's district, and I will not disappoint. Holton opened with an expected win over Atchison, giving them a shot at the district title. The only hurdle in the Wildcats way could be the Tigers of Jefferson West. I think it should be a fine game to watch.

Game to Watch: Jefferson West vs. Holton

Jefferson West and Holton share the like opponent of Atchison County. The Wildcats rolled, but so did the Tigers. Look for Holton to take this match-up in a big win proving they deserve their second in the state ranking.

WICHITA, Kan. - Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon evidently thought he was being cute this week when he mocked the intelligence of Kansans. jaynixonAs reported by the Wichita Eagle's Editorial Board Blog, WE Blog:

"...Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has poked fun at the intelligence of Kansans. When asked this week whether an expansion of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Dental School could end up training dentists for Kansas, Nixon dismissed the notion that some graduates might want to practice in Kansas. "But it's so obvious when you cross the state line," Nixon said as the 100 or so in the audience laughed and applauded, the Kansas City Star reported. "People just start talking slower."

TOPEKA, Kan. - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Charles Schollenberger, 57, of Prairie Village, Kan., departing his usual speech after thanking Amanda Haas for inviting him to speak today at the Washburn Law School, told students, "I am today calling for a two-year phased withdrawal of U.S. and Allied troops from Afghanistan, starting January 1, 2010, and ending December 31, 2012."

"The Afghan war has been going on since 1979. We have been in Afghanistan since 2001; thirty-two years of war is long enough for the Afghans. Eleven years of war is long enough for us," Schollenberger said.

According to the National Priorities Project, the U.S. has spent an estimated $228 billion to date on the Afghan war. Schollenberger expressed faith that amount of money would be better utilized within our own borders.

TOPEKA, Kan. - This week, in a stunning act of irony, Kansas Republican Party Chairwoman Amanda Adkins attacked Rep. Dennis Moore for his support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Never mind that the act has created over 1 million jobs, and Kansas' jobless rate actually declined again last month.

How is this ironic? (I mean, more than usual...)

Well, Amanda Adkins is a top executive at the Cerner Corporation, a company that has advocated for and stands to gain from the very same Recovery Act. In fact, the company itself states on it's website:

...we recognize that our success is rooted in the value of automating the healthcare process, and we are pleased to see that the Obama Administration and Congress understands an investment in healthcare information technology (HIT) benefits the entire U.S. economy.

Smells a little like hypocrisy, eh?

27,000 Newly Uninsured Kansans

WICHITA, Kan. - According to a report released on Tuesday by Families USA, a national nonprofit focusing on the achievement of high quality health care for all Americans, 27,000 Kansans lost their health insurance in 2009.

According to the Families USA press release...

Approximately 27,000 people in Kansas lost health insurance coverage in 2009 due to a rise in unemployment, according to a report issued today by the health consumer organization Families USA. According to the report, the state's average unemployment rate in 2008 was 4.4 percent, while the average rate this year was 6.6 percent, thereby resulting in losses of health coverage.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City Public Television (KCPT) held an October 21 lunchtime roundtable comprised of four local journalists--two from the Kansas City Star, and two from commercial television. Hosted by KCPT's Executive Producer of News and Public Affairs, Nick Haines, the roundtable was an opportunity for about 25 local folks to ask questions about the current (and future) state of journalism. Haines, a veteran journalist himself and host of KCPT's Kansas City Week in Review, a weekly digest of Kansas City area happenings, did a masterful job of making the reporters human and approachable as those of us in the audience asked questions about the future of local journalism. The four reporters attending were: DeAnn Smith of Fox affiliate KSHB-TV; Kris Ketz of ABC affiliate KMBC-TV; Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star, and host of a daily show on local public radio, KCUR; and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - What is the matter with Kansas? Ever since William Allen White posed the question in 1896, many people have tried to answer it. More recently Thomas Frank took on the question in his 2004 book in which he answered the question by saying that the state's political discourse had dramatically shifted from the class animus of traditional leftist thought which once was the hallmark of the state to one in which hot button cultural issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, are used to redirect anger towards electing individuals who work against Kansans' own best interests.

Now two directors from Chicago, Joe Winston and Laura Coen, have taken on the question and tried to answer it through the lens of a camera.

Wes Jackson and The Land Institute

BASEHOR, Kan. - National Public Radio had a lengthy story yesterday about Wes Jackson and The Land Institute.

I used to have a getaway place in Chase County, and, because Wes was also involved in trying to resurrect a tiny unincorporated Chase County place called Matfield Green, he was a bit of a local fixture. From the radio story, it seems that Wes has literally gone back to his "roots," trying to encourage plant diversity through plant breeding programs aimed at natural sustainability.

I was pleased to hear that Wes and his crew are still kicking around. We need dreamers and long-term thinkers like Wes, whose goal is to work with the natural order of things and still provide for the food supplies needed by an ever-increasing population.

A Little Greed Is a Good Thing?

BOGUE, Kan. - At a men's prayer breakfast, we were talking about capitalism when Reverend Charlie, I'll call him, weighed in with godly intent.

"A little greed is a good thing."

"I can't imagine Jesus saying that," I said.

There followed silence, a pregnant pause - except nothing came of it.

As we ate and chatted about trivialities, I thought about the rich man trying to pass through the needle's eye. About a man gaining the whole world and losing his soul.

Who Will Be Our Next Governor?

COLBY, Kan. - It appears that Sam Brownback will most likely be a contender in the race to be the Republican candidate for Governor of Kansas.

I recall him declaring in a previous election year that the most important issue we faced as a nation was same sex marriage. He indicated that if we did not successfully make such marriages illegal, our nation would invoke the judgment of God and cease to exist.

This was at a time that the war in Iraq was failing miserably. Maybe our Topeka Baptist preacher was right. It must have been the homosexuals fault! Our national debt was rising at an alarming rate! I'm not sure what gay marriage had to do with that.

BASEHOR, Kan. - I think it's time to take the gloves off and push Progressives (and maybe even the Kansas Democratic Party) to begin talking about the "C" word--Class.

To get a good, quick rundown of the issue, take a look at an old interview with Thomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" In the interview, Frank says that the Democratic party has abandoned one of its principle tenets--and the very one that sets itself so much apart from Republican hucksters. And that's the issue of class.

WICHITA, Kan. - Late yesterday, news broke that former KS-04 Congressman ('76-'94) and Clinton USDA Secretary Dan Glickman was not renewing his lucrative contract with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Glickman, whose contract expires in September 2010, said...

"I'm going to be 65 next month, and it just struck me this is a good time to really move on back into the world of either academia, public service or nonprofits."

We've been pondering a possible run by Glickman for either Kansas Governor, since KDP Chairman Larry Gates bowed out last Friday, or the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sam Brownback, who is leaving the post in 2010 to seek the office of the Kansas Governor.

WICHITA, Kan. - Featured on the DailyKos today is a KS-04 Roundup of all the challengers for the Congressional seat, and the rather amazing fundraising feat performed by Kansas State Representative Raj Goyle in his bid for the KS-04 Congressional seat.

Important to note: Goyle out-raised four-out-of-the-five Republican challengers--combined--for the KS-04 seat, amounting to nearly $3,500 per day in fundraising. The next closest challenger in the fundraising race was Wichita oilman and Wichita Wild arena football league owner, Wink Hartman, who, for the two weeks he was in the KS-04 race in the last quarter, raised just over $1,000 per day.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Today is a day that students all across the Nation will come together for one common goal which is to work for health care reform and call our representatives about it.

Students for Health Care Reform: KSU (Time to Deliver: Students)

Come join us on October, 20th as we organize for health insurance reform! As students we are being called upon to help pass real health care reform THIS YEAR! Gather with other KSU students as we talk with other students asking them to commit to call our members of congress and let them know we want health reform now! NO experience is necessary and training will be provided. We can't wait to see you on October 20th as we work to realize the change we voted for. Yes We Can!

Today at Kansas State University we will be just outside of the Union in Bosco plaza with a table, so stop by between your classes or on your way across campus!

YOCEMENTO, Kan - The lesser prairie chicken may be threatened with extinction because of choices we are making.

Since European settlement of the Plains States began in the mid-1800's, we've been chipping away at the habitats of the lesser prairie-chicken (LPC). As excessive grassland was plowed for crop production, LPC populations dwindled. Biologists estimate that about 90% of the LPC population was destroyed by the 1980's.

This species needs undisturbed open spaces to perform its famous mating dance. It is relatively intolerant of human structures and activity. Kansas is home to almost half of the world's LPC population. New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma also host this rare breed of prairie grouse.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Members of a local chapter of the national activist group, Billionaires for Wealthcare, came out of their homes in Kansas City this weekend to make an unusual appearance on that city's streets. Well-heeled, the group of about twenty protesters arrived in style, by limousine. They carried signs that said, "Whatever happened to an apple a day?" and "Fight Socialism, End Medicare Now!"

These weren't billionaires. Their group was comprised of local progressive activists providing a bit of irony. However, it may have taken some real conservatives awhile to catch on. A right wing Tea Party Protest was commencing at the same time in front of the NBC station, with the goal of admonishing the local affiliate for airing Keith Olbermann's shows. Though it wasn't the original intention of the Billionaires group, the progressives decided to mingle with the conservatives.

HAYS, Kan. - Running around on the internet and sometimes on paper is a little story that tries to draw an analogy between students' performance in a class, socialism, and--sometimes--President Obama's public policy proposals. It was reprinted in my local newspaper this morning under the headline "Socialism and you: What lies ahead for the United States?"

This analogy could bear a little analysis.

First, here is a quick version of the story: a college professor and class agree that everyone in the class will get the class average as a grade. On the first exam, in which traditional behaviors prevail--some students are striving for good grades and some not so much--everyone gets a B. On the second, everyone gets lazier and they all get D's. Then for the final exam, discord is added to laziness, and everyone ends up failing.

TOPEKA, Kan. - In one of her last acts before heading to Washington, DC, former Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed an Executive Order establishing the Kansas Coalition for Children in Nature (KCCN). The KCCN will work to promote outdoor learning experiences and environmental education for young people, and will identify barriers and suggest solutions to getting kids outside. And you're invited to take part.

PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. - Once again Kansas finds itself in a financial crisis. Soon the State will not have enough money to pay its bills. Adjustments must be made. Two questions come to mind. How did we get in this mess? And what adjustment should we make.

Like most crises this one has been coming for a long time. The state has been getting behind on its obligations for years. It has knowingly under funded its retirement program. Kansas has barely been meeting its obligation to education. Roads and bridges have been in a state of decline. We have told ourselves that our economy would grow and then we could catch up on our bills. Unfortunately our tax revenues have not grown enough to bail us out.

WICHITA, Kan. - Yesterday, I reported on the October quarterly filings by challengers to the open Congressional seat in KS-04, currently held by Todd Tiahrt. We weren't able to report on how two of the challengers, State Senator Jean Schodorf and Jim Anderson, had performed in the October quarterly, because they chose not to e-file, thereby adding 48-72 hours to the Federal Election Commission's reporting.

WICHITA, Kan. - In a week where Raj Goyle hit a campaign fundraising record that no other challenger to KS-04 has ever reached, it appears the Republican challengers to that seat performed rather... well... boringly.

Here's the run down...

EMPORIA, Kan. - This column is for you guys out their who love you football, love your baseball, love your basketball... heck I'll even let you love your NASCAR. But you might be that guy out their who's daughter has just decided she's in to volleyball. Now you have to go to all the matches... but volleyball's not like football, baseball or NASCAR.

To sell the sport short though would be a travesty. Volleyball can be very entertaining, very athletics and just plain fun to watch. Case in point tonight's match between #8 Emporia State and #7 Washburn. Their was never a dull moment in the match as the crowd of 2,156 looked on. You had story lines, athletes that put others shame and one of the best matches played in the nation.

Let's start with the story lines, if you haven't read about the Shepard Twins and their volleyball playing yet, you've missed out. Two time All-American Arica attends Emporia State while her sister Ashley decided on rival Washburn. The two have both helped keep their respective schools in the AVCA Top 25, and most week's in the top ten.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - This just in. Larry Gates, Chair of the Kansas Democratic Party, has formally announced that he does not intend to run for governor in 2010. In his memo to party members, Chairman Gates wrote, in part,

For many months, Jeanne and I have considered undertaking a campaign for governor in 2010. Many of you have encouraged me and offered your support, for which I am humbled and grateful. ... Although the press reports Democrats are not prepared for 2010, the truth is far from it. ... There are tremendously qualified candidates who are considering this race and allowed me the opportunity to fully consider my own candidacy. From among those individuals a great nominee will emerge to challenge the Washington insider whose campaign advisors would have you believe this race is over.

Don't Get Raped in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. - My eyes are being opened to the problem of sexual assault in Kansas. The more information that I seek, the more alarmed and outraged I become. The fact that one rape occurs every seven hours in Kansas is a fact that I find unacceptable. The fact that the ordeal of many victims is often intensified by current post assault procedures currently practiced by hospitals throughout the state... well, that is a fact that I find inhuman.

A recent sexual assault on the campus of Wichita State University is what began my education in this area. Initially, it was the "tips" for lowering the risk of rape that prompted me to contact WSU campus police. The "tips" that obviously indicate that women should shoulder the responsibility to protect themselves from potential attackers, rather than counseling drunk frat boys on how NOT TO RAPE WOMEN. Well, every journey must have a starting point and that was mine.

5A and 6A District Previews

EMPORIA, Kan. - It's district football season in Kansas, and here's your guide to what to watch for, where to watch it at... and who I think is going to be around on Thanksgiving weekend. So we'll start going class by class, I'll give you a look at some of the best games for you money. Check back on Monday for a breakdown of Class 4A through Class 1A and Tuesday I'll tackle 8-man.

CLASS 6A

District 1,2,3

The three best teams in the east are all three in different districts which means, alot of lousy football played out east. Shawnee Mission West should roll through district number one and likely be joined by Shawnee Mission Northwest in the state playoffs.
I feel like Olathe East is incredibly overrated in district two, but they should escape to the playoffs. I like Blue Valley Northwest to upset them though and take top prize in district two. In district three Olathe North may be the best team in all of 6A, and should have no trouble making it through districts. Olathe South could find their way out of District play as well.

Game to Watch: Olathe East vs. Blue Valley Northwest

This is a trap game for Olathe East, I think it screams upset for the overrated Hawks

What to Watch For 10-16 Edition

EMPORIA, Kan. - It's a Friday night in Kansas, district play is starting (look back here for a class by class breakdown next week) and it's an amazing night to be a sports fan. If you're setting their thinking about what it is you should watch tonight, allow your liberal sportsman to let you know where you should go.

Western Kansas

Great Bend at Hays

This game is a Lewis Field on the campus of Fort Hays State University and will be in front of a large crowd. This is a rivalry game and Hays will take the field looking to prove their legitimacy. If one of these two teams is going to compete in the toughest district in the state of Kansas (others: Hutch and McPherson) they are going to have to start by making a statement tonight. I think Hays will take the game, but it will not be easy.

Central Kansas

Hutchinson at McPherson

Seriously if you live within 50 miles of McPherson this game is well worth the drive. At the field, which is turf, behind McPherson High School. The Salthawks truly have been the greatest show on turf this season, putting up video game like numbers and rolling to easy victories....BUT last week against Goddard, the Lions were able to hold HHS to only seven points in the first quarter. Coach Randy Dreiling said in an interview this week that they were caught off guard. The Bulldogs must take advantage and blitz early and often and keep the Salthawk offense on their toes and they must put the football in the endzone early and build a lead, otherwise HHS has been the best second half team in the state. I still think Hutch will be playing in Emporia come Thanksgiving weekend, but if there is one team that could upset them before that Championship game, McPherson is that team.

LEROY, Kan. - In what might be described as the lovechild of Dr. Dre and Minnie Pearl, Bill Otto, a Republican state representative from LeRoy, Kansas has made the national spotlight with his latest "rap" on the shortcomings of President Obama and his policies.

There have been plenty of politicians who've tried to embrace this musical genre, but what makes PossumOtter (that's my new nickname for him) so special and has drawn the ire of millions is that he posted his rythmically challenged ode on YouTube while wearing a ballcap that claims "Opossum, the other dark meat."

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Health care reform in the U.S. is difficult because we have assembled the most complicated, convoluted, inefficient, un-systemic health care "non-system" of the industrialized nations.

The two biggest cost drivers are the American lifestyle of too much food and not enough exercise, and, the payer "system." Changing these two factors are "extremely difficult" and "difficult."

Health care reform in the U.S. is difficult because the elected officials who are to change or reform the non-system seldom get the opportunity to truly learn and understand the vagaries of Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, the Veterans Admin health system, ERISA, federal regulations, state regulations, and more.

Deepen the Bench with Democratic Idol

TOPEKA, Kan. - Since 2006, Republicans have been coming out of the closet and professing their new faith in the Kansas Democratic Party. Call them turncoats, re-born democrats or opportunists -- they all made a decision to join the minority party in Kansas. They are welcome in the KDP and part of an unusual transition in power.

Maybe even more unusual is that a nightly prayer ends like this, "Dear God, please convince Mark Parkinson to run for Governor."

Think about why that is unusual. The former Kansas Republican Party Chairman is now in the clean up spot for the Kansas democrats, and arguably, the ideal candidate on the democratic gubernatorial ticket.

Remember the press when Parkinson became Governor? Not a very high percentage of the general public knew who Mark Parkinson was. What is the solution for the Kansas Democratic Party?

A Democrat Neophyte

LARNED, Kan. - Politically, last year was a watershed year for me. I moved from conservative Republican to Obamican to full fledged Democrat, all in the space of four months. Actually, it took much longer. Allow me to explain. I had been a staunch conservative for approximately thirty years! Or at least I thought I was. Oh yeah, I should mention that I am an African-American male who used to love listening to Rush Limbaugh, even though much of what he said insulted my racial sensitivities? Yes, I was one of the few black "ditto heads." Talk about an identity crisis!

TOPEKA, Kan. - If we are serious about growing our community and changing the prevailing images that weigh us down, we need work toward a paradigm shift and shed the cow town mentality that is enemy number one to progress. It won't work anymore to fix things on the cheap, put things off and take shortcuts. If we are serious about attracting individuals who have good jobs to offer and the ability to solidly contribute to our tax base over the long haul we need to transcend the here-and-now in our planning.

To do this, we start with small things. Small feats often have more of a positive psychological impact on a collective than you might think. When we begin to achieve progress on small levels it empowers people; it sets the wheels into motion as a segue to additional substantial positive changes. To change a community, you have to first begin to improve the perceptions of it from within. Little by little community image improves, people feel empowered and take a more active role in their government. Pretty soon, people start to actively shape the future of their community by demanding progress. They realize that it is much more powerful to stand with ideas rather than let other people come up with them first and oppose.

Sam Brownback. Really. Scary.

BASEHOR, Kan. - Sam Brownback is a member of a curious religious group with a twisted view of morality. The founder (and father of the group's current leader) says that members should be forgiven for crimes, even for crimes like rape, because members are really above the law since they're among the "chosen."

Really, Sam Brownback? Really???

LAWRENCE, Kan.- Does the name Jamie Leigh Jones ring a bell? If not, don't worry. I didn't know who she was either until I heard about the bill Sam Brownback voted against that was introduced in her name.

Her story is just as important as it is tragic. Here are the basics, taken from Think Progress:

"In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and "warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job." (Jones was not an isolated case.) Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration."

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Thanks to the required First Amendment class I'm taking, I've been thinking way too much about freedom of speech lately. We talk about the market place of ideas, in which citizens have a right to listen to, deny, accept or even contribute to public discussion. We talk about the importance of allowing beliefs to be expressed without government regulation. And we talk about how every view, no matter how unpopular or gross, is considered equal.

I really do believe that the First Amendment defines America, which is a good thing... sometimes.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Richard Gage, architect, founder and CEO of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth), will appear at the Hudson Auditorium at Johnson County Community College at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27. Gage is expected to give a multimedia presentation on behalf of more than 900 architects and engineers in his organization who question the official explanation of what happened to the three buildings of the World Trade Center that collapsed Sept. 11, 2001. Gage is currently touring the country speaking about his belief that it is not possible for fires alone to have caused the collapse of the three steel-framed skyscrapers in the WTC complex on that day.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The National Equality March organized by Equality Across America drew an estimated 200,000 marchers to Washington, DC, on Sunday October 11th. Included in the sea of marchers were 13 marchers from Manhattan - 11 students from Kansas State University's LGBTQ & More organization and two from the Flint Hills Human Rights Project.

This was my third march for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. At the height of the AIDS crisis, I had returned to the US in 1987 from my then home in Italy to be part of a very angry march as the LGBT community dealt with President Reagan who refused to respond to the growing AIDS crisis or even speak of it in public. By the time the NAMES Project Memorial Quilt was unfolded on the Mall at that march, I had made eight panels, including one for my former partner.

WICHITA, Kan. - Federal Election Commission disclosures are starting to roll in for the fundraising quarter that ended September 30, and State Representative and Democratic candidate for Congress in KS-04 Raj Goyle secured himself a role among the titans of prolific Kansas Democratic fundraisers.

From the Goyle campaign...

TOPEKA, Kan. - In politics, it is often said that timing is everything. That may be partially true, but it doesn't hurt to have a supremely qualified, hard working and well respected candidate to boot.

Especially when you are talking about someone with broad-based, in-depth legislative experience regarding health care and taxation while understanding how the Federal government has often failed State governments as of late by not shouldering its fair share of the fiscal burden.

It made my day Friday when I heard Senator Laura Kelly had announced her run for the Second District Congressional seat, which couldn't have come at a better time when you look at the challenges facing our state and nation.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - If you notice in this video Sen. Brownback talks about how terrible human trafficking is, and how people's rights are so important we through helping people we will "save our soul".

I guess Sen. Brownback wasn't too worried about his soul when he voted that rape was ok. I'm not sure what his motives were for protecting rapist from their victims but they are surely mislead.

There are certain things that should not be questioned - like a.) the fact the rape is a terrible thing and b.) that people who commit rapes should not be protected by the law from being sued.

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - Research turned up insight into a family background steeped in science on candidate for U.S. Senate Charles D. Schollenberger a Democrat from Kansas.

Shawn Cleveland first reported on this story in this year's spring publication from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences.

Schollenberger when asked was kind enough to allow Kansas Free Press to share this unique story.

Grandson and son, Charles D. Schollenberger, continue a commitment to honor the work of agronomist Charles J. Schollenberger and chemist Charles S. Schollenberger with a gift to create the Charles Schollenberger Arboretum Visitors Center Biological Lab Endowment.


GREAT BEND, Kan. - At the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Republican Governor Robert Bennett called Kansas "the most Republican state in the Union." And he may have been right. But those days are over.

The book How Barack Obama Won, by Chuck Todd and Sheldon Gawiser, shows that Kansas is far from being the reddest of the red states. But the important thing is the direction Kansas is heading. And it's heading toward a more moderate, Democratic path.

Although the authors point out that Kansas is the #2 state in self-identified Republicans at 49% (only Wyoming at 52% is higher), Kansas strangely doesn't even rank in the top fourteen states in self-identified "conservatives."

Obama's Prize

DODGE CITY, Kan. - Yesterday I attended a luncheon of a local civic group. At our table were seated six women, four of whom were certified, blue-blood Republicans and the other two were another wise Democrat and me.

An R asked who had heard the shocking news that Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course, all of us had. Four of the group were properly stunned and sure that this must have been some kind of political trickery. One asked if any of us knew how winners were selected and by whom. I suggested that perhaps the selection happened because of all his potential for what he might do for the world with our new outlook.

They remembered suddenly that I was - Oh, Horrors! A Democrat! So, now they reminded each other, that this Democrat had been a "good" Democrat and that they had all voted for me when I was in the Kansas House. Thank goodness, I wasn't like all those OTHER Democrats. I responded that I was very proud of being a member of the Democratic Party, the Party of the People. So the subject was changed.

TREECE, Kan. - Reading about the problems of the residents of Treece, Kansas, takes me back to a day when Carol, my office mate, told me about her bus trip from Wichita through Missouri, a trip that took her through my home town of Baxter Springs, Kansas, a Southeast Kansas town five miles or so from both the Missouri and Oklahoma border.

As Carol talked about the sights she saw on the trip, she asked about some hills she'd seen near Baxter Springs. "Are those the foothills of the Ozarks?"

Signs Of Democratic Life In Kansas

HAYS, Kan. - Throughout my career teaching college students I have encountered a recurring sentiment, often from the most earnest undergraduates. "I wish I could just study, go to class, and write what I really think, without everything being so competitive." The implication is that the way achievement is recognized in higher education is undermining the learning experience for the student.

Journalists often voice a similar regret - or excuse, depending upon your point of view - about how they would much rather be finding and reporting different kinds of stories, but the nature of the business requires them to operate according to standards the journalists themselves claim to resent. Perhaps the commercial realities of circulation, ratings, and advertising revenue are undermining journalistic freedom to pursue stories from a different perspective, shaped by a larger purpose. I don't know because I have never had to make a living within those realities.

WASHINGTON - President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize this morning for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, issued this statement, "The Nobel Committee's decision to award this year's Peace Prize to President Obama is an affirmation of the fact that the United States has returned to its longstanding role as a world leader. The President has made a conscious decision from the beginning of his presidency to reinvigorate diplomacy, by talking to our friends and our rivals. Those efforts to bring world leaders together are helping the people of the world to face monumental challenges like nuclear arms proliferation, conflict resolution and climate change. With this prize comes a sense of enormous pride, but also an enormous sense of humility about the work that remains if we are to resolve the global problems facing humanity."

Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, rebuked the respected institution for awarding the prize to the president.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The 2nd U.S. Congressional District has been anything but stable. In 2006, Nancy Boyda (D) defeated incumbent Rep. Jim Ryun (R). After just two years in Washington, Lynn Jenkins (R) defeated Boyda in 2008.

The district has been in the news in recent months. Jenkins has seemed to take a number of missteps (here, here and here). The Kansas Democratic Party is even tracking Jenkins at a special site, JenkinsFail.com.

Now, we hear that Jenkins has a challenger in the 2010 election. State Sen. Laura Kelly (D) has announced that she wants to reclaim that congressional seat for the Democratic Party.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Long-time Kansas resident Charles Schollenberger, 57, of Prairie Village has been for months visiting state residents sharing his vision of what he feels a Kansas state senator should be representing. After forming an exploratory committee back in June, today Schollenberger made his official announcement. He will in fact seek the senate seat being evacuated by Sam Brownback.

Schollenberger attended the annual Democratic fall meeting held last weekend in Wichita. After meeting with several key Democratic voters and receiving good feedback, Schollenberger wasted no time in making his announcement.

"We pledge our best efforts to wage an effective campaign to break the strangle-hold that conservative Republicans have had over our two U.S Senate seats for the last 70 years. I invite you to join me in this crusade for change." Schollenberger said.

Schollenberger delivered his speech under rain filled skies this morning across the street from Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka.

WASHINGTON - Alliance for Justice's new documentary film - Tortured Law? - is now available to activists in local communities and campus leaders of law schools, colleges, university campuses and interested political groups. Groups are free to use this film as a centerpiece for discussions, forums, debates and other educational events. For the asking, AFJ will send a free copy of the documentary to interested groups. I'm excited to tell you about it and hope to encourage local Kansas groups to get involved with its screening. Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, poses these questions,

The legal architecture for torture was originally outlined and sanctioned in 2002 by a series of memos drafted by lawyers in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel. Were these lawyers simply giving the President their best legal advice? Or was their work part of a larger criminal conspiracy to distort the law and authorize torture?

The film is a tool in an ongoing campaign calling on Attorney General Holder to release the OPR report and authorize a full investigation of those who ordered, designed, and justified torture.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - I consider myself fairly well immersed in the political world. I read the news constantly, regularly read blogs for up to date opinions and inside information, and am relatively comfortable when it comes to the subject of political history. Because of all of this it is not often that I am legitimately shocked by an occurrence in modern day politics.

Today, however, I was completely floored.

It would seem that in the fight against sexual violence, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas is on the side of... sexual violence?

A Brown Blizzard from the Far Right

BOGUE, Kan. - People who offer political opinions in print (me) get mail storms. Until it gets to "you already sent that," I like seeing what's up coming down.

I get a skift from the left. The blizzard, however, comes in bullying brown drifts from what I call the poopflake right. The intent - no matter the circumstance, no matter how inaccurate - is to bury the Obama administration. A recent flurry:

A Californian who loves FAUX-Snooze wrote, "All the doctors I talk to say they're gonna leave the country if there's a public option." The truth: 73 percent of M.D.'s nationwide want a public option or a single payer system.

The Californian's ditto-head fourteen-year-old sent a link to a story intended to prove that the Massachusetts example is a government takeover of health care which would bankrupt the country, as it nearly has that state. But Massachusetts does not have a public option, certainly no single-payer system.

Raj Goyle's Photographic Memory

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The first time I met Raj Goyle we were both Democratic hopefuls for the Kansas House of Representatives, attending a strategy meeting in Topeka in 2006. Both of us were running in tough Republican Districts, me in the 112th, him in the 87th against longtime Republican incumbent Bonnie Huy.

"Marty Keenan," I said, extending my hand in friendship. "Raj Goyle," he said. "I met your in-laws recently," he said, as my jaw dropped. "Harry and Carol Castelli." Raj had met my very Republican in-laws going door-to-door, and it was obvious he talked to them at length.

I figured this was just a lucky coincidence. I decided to throw him a bone and tell him about another of his potential constituents I knew: "Do you remember John Holt, the broadcaster? His parents live in your district..."

TOPEKA, Kan. - Kansas Republicans just received a surprising criticism from one of their own.

As picked up last night on Huffington Post, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) told a group of local Kansas journalists yesterday that the GOP needed to get on board and stop fighting health insurance reform. His most stunning observation was reported by the KC Star:

"Sometimes people fight you just to fight you," he said. "They don't want Reagan to get it, they don't want Obama to get it, so we've got to kill it...Health care is one of those things...Now we've got to do something."

Today, Bob Dole will be releasing a statement with former Sens. Tom Daschle, Howard Baker, and George Mitchell along the same lines calling on Congress to enact health insurance reform.

More below the fold...

WICHITA, Kan. - Workers of Local Lodge 639 at Bombardier Learjet in Wichita, KS, ratified a three-year agreement by a 95 percent vote on Saturday October 3.

The agreement calls for yearly raises and a 14 percent immediate increase in the pension plan. The company and the Union entered into a partnership agreement to explore ways to hold the line on health care, leaving the cost of one plan unchanged and the other with modest increases.

IAM negotiators also made numerous improvements in contract language, bucking a current trend of companies demanding concessions and cuts from employees. IAM leaders say the Learjet contract shows there are ways to weather the economic storm without using tough times to attack worker pay and benefits.

"There were no takeaways in this contract," said District Lodge 70 Directing Business Representative Steve Rooney.

Why Brownback Is Not a Shoo-in

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The key question about Sam Brownback's Republican candidacy for Governor is not "Why aren't any Democrats running?," but "Why aren't more Democrats running?" During my lifetime, Kansas has had more years of Democratic governors than Republican governors.

The prevalence of Democratic governors in Kansas is an oddity, but easily explainable:
Kansans love divided government. They don't trust one political party to control the Governor's mansion, and both legislative bodies at the same time.

But what about Bill Graves? Yes, this moderate, pro-education Republican served for 8 years with a Republican house and a Republican senate. But Sam Brownback is a different kettle of fish.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, SurveyUSA released the results of their monthly approval rating poll in Kansas showing a staggering six percent drop in approval for Senator Sam Brownback. Brownback, who is running for Governor of Kansas, now finds himself under the so-called "safe" 50% threshold for election.

Brownback's 48% approval is nearing his all time low achieved when he left Kansas to pursue his ambition of becoming President. Worst yet for him, he's bleeding moderates. One in ten abandoned Brownback in September. Many have said this race is already over, but this is clear evidence it is only the beginning.

Kansas Democrats have an incredible opportunity to both retain the Governor's office and provide a clear, stable alternative to Senator Brownback's brand of extremism.

Shakespeare in the Heartland

LAWRENCE, Kan. - As a student at the University of Kansas, I am proud of the fact that our theatre department is known for stellar productions. Seriously, we're talking about an academic department that has seen Scott Bakula, Don Johnson, Paul Rudd, and Mandy Patinkin grace its stages at one point or another. Although all of those actors' time at KU is in the distant past, the tradition of quality performances continues to this day.

That is why I'm quite excited to tell you about the KU production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, which begins a very limited run this weekend.

Seeing in Full-Blown Color

WICHITA, Kan. - "You say the word hell, and that's where all of you are going," shouted a lone fundamentalist preacher in front of the Rhatigan Student Center at Wichita State University last Tuesday, September 29.

In this same spot, this man and his associates have preached for the past week and a half to students on campus that, he says, "worship the Shockers."

Most students that I have talked to aren't particularly excited about their mascot like students at different universities are. In fact, they may be as big of fans of the wheat this man devours in his communion bread every week.

As I observed this situation, I decided it was best to ask him about sports. Did he ever play football, or any other sports? "Well," he said, "I played some ball in my day, but now that I am working for the Lord, I have not focused on sports as much." The key, I thought, was to get him talking about something completely unrelated to his original plan and purpose.

WSU's That Gay Group! took the initiative to stand close to this man and his friends with signs and a rainbow flag. When the rainbow flag touched the man, he said, "Get this off of me!"

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Women's Study Program at Kansas State University is bringing world-renowned environmental justice advocate, Dr. Vandana Shiva, to speak at KSU on Friday, October 16th, at 7:00 pm in the McCain Auditorium.

A native of India, Dr. Shiva is a trained physicist, ecofeminist, and founding member of Navdanya - "nine seeds" - a participatory research initiative on global environmental justice based in New Delhi.

Shireen Roshanravan, Ph.D., Asst. Professor of Women's Studies at KSU, is hoping that this upcoming event will have lasting benefits for progressive dialogue. Dr. Roshanravan told us...

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - A Missouri billboard is enlightening, but maybe not in the intended way. It says more about the state of our citizenry and the state of general knowledge (or lack thereof) than it does about Obama.

A red and yellow billboard posted along I-70 near Blue Springs is gaining attention from the local media. Watching the following video made many points, some that I would assume that the person that paid for the billboard did not intend. Check it out and then read on:

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - I love Business Week magazine. I read it dutifully every week, and have done so for years. It has, in my estimation, the best balance of Capitalism and Corporate Responsibility. Unlike so many other business mags, BW has always looked at all sides of issues, not just the side that will generate the most money.

In the October 12 issue, an article entitled "Why Business Fears the Public Option,"the magazine lays out a few points about the issue of "Cost Shifting," one of the attacks that the insurance industry has mounted.

HAYS, Kan. - Psssst, we're surrounded.

I am talking to residents of Central Kansas. We're surrounded by radio stations and
talk show hosts that, in my opinion, generate too much heat and too little light when addressing matters of general public concern.

"I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense ..." Thomas Paine, 1776, pamphleteer

HAYS, Kan. - Thomas Paine was a pamphleteer over 230 years ago. Though he's thought of as one of America's earliest, and perhaps its most famous journalist, if he were alive today, it's fairly unlikely that he'd be working as a glam television anchor, covering car chases on the L.A. freeway or following the sagas of divorcing celebrities. Tom Paine probably wouldn't aspire to political punditry either. It's doubtful that he'd end up an argumentative or abrasive talking head on some cable news channel.

No. The man who is the original embodiment of the the 1st Amendment would strive for something much greater.

If Tom Paine were to be among us now, it's likely that he would aspire to be one of us. He'd probably be writing furiously and freely at a free press on the Internet, just like this one. And, just as we hope to, he'd be speaking of issues that he believed to have the most relevance to his fellow citizens.

Citizen-powered websites, like this one, are bringing about a real revival of pamphleteering, and a renewed understanding of freedom of the press.

OTTAWA, Kan. - On Saturday, September 26, the Franklin County Democratic Party held a food drive in Ottawa. Country Mart, a local grocery store, was generous enough to allow the county party set up outside their doors. A group of dedicated local Democrats stood outside for six hours and collected an amazing amount of food, tolietries, and other household essentials. The drive benefited two Ottawa pantries, Hope House and ECKAN.

The community of Franklin County and Ottawa answered the call of help to those less fortunate. In such difficult economic times the volunteers received several large, generous donations. Through this food drive, the citizens of Ottawa displayed an amazing showing of giving and compassion to our fellow community members who need the donations.

EMPORIA, Kan. - Last night on NBC, a travesty in entertainment befell us all. Saturday night live, for the second week in a row, bombed miserably. With the new Weekend Update Thursday thriving in it's time slot, you've got wonder why Lorne Michaels is wasting what seems to be his best material on a weekday.

Let's face it, before John Stewart and Stephen Colbert came along, SNL had a market monopoly on political satire. For the last three years that has been their bread and butter as they just seemed to fill the rest of the show with stuff just funny enough to keep you watching until they parodied politics.

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - Prairie Village resident Charles Schollenberger has announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible U.S. Senate run. The committee plans to meet through the end of 2009 to determine if sufficient support exists for a candidacy.

Schollenberger believes "Kansans deserve better representation. Republicans have tied up [those] seats for over 70 years." From a "fair play standpoint, the other party ought to have a chance."

Schollenberger hails from Hudson, Ohio has been a resident of metropolitan Kansas City for 27 years. He grew up in northeast Ohio where he was a strong advocate for passage of the 26th amendment in 1971, which lowered the legal voting age to 18.

TOPEKA, Kan. - For the past two years the Kansas legislature has devoted major energy trying to undo a decision made by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Director, Roderick Bremby, which prevented Sunflower Electric from moving ahead with the construction of two coal-fire power plants slated for construction in the southwest Kansas community of Holcomb.

Following the departure of Gov. Kathleen Sebeilus, Gov. Parkinson in private negotiations with Sunflower Electric Cooperative gave them what they wanted and put the health of Kansans at risk by having the legislature pass legislation that prevents KDHE from doing its job in the future.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Network Neutrality, or "Net Neutrality" for short, is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet. When we open up our browser to surf the web or check in our MySpace account, we expect to get were we want to go without encountering complications.

Net Neutrality ensures that all users can access the content or run the applications and devices of their choice when they are using the Internet. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data -- not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service. Net Neutrality prevents the companies that control the wires from discriminating against content based on its source or ownership.

The Founder of MY Humanism

LAWRENCE, Kan. - I have been amazingly lucky in my life to have been surrounded by extremely strong role models since a young age. While many of them have been flawed, occasionally astoundingly so, each and every one of the people that I have considered a role model in my life has changed my life in ways that I don't even have the ability to express intelligently. However, since when has not being able to express something intelligently ever stopped me from trying?

One of the more remarkable things about my role models throughout my life, considering that I am a product of small-town Western Kansas, is that, even as a very young man, the majority of my role models have been women. While this doesn't shock me from the position I find myself in now, at 30 years of age, it is something that is unusual, due to the societal roles that men and women are expected to fulfill in conservative atmospheres, like Western Kansas. While I do have many males that have served as important role models in my life, I will leave discussion of them for another day. Today, let me tell you about one amazing women I've known.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Statistically, speaking the 112th District House of Representatives seat is the third safest Republican seat in the entire Kansas House of Representatives. In fact, this western Barton County seat hasn't been filled by a Democrat in over 60 years.

So why did I run 3 times as a Democrat for this seat in 2004, 2006 and 2008? I guess I'm a dreamer at heart, a Don Quixote who wants to believe that good things happen to good people who keep trying. Averaging 47.6% of the vote is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it still makes you wonder why politics isn't more fair.

But at a recent Royals game, I saw two things that started to make things a little more clear. One said: "Play for the name on the front of your jersey, not the name on the back." How true. Each time I ran for state tepresentative, I was a member of a team, the name on the front of my jersey "Democrat" is what really counts. The name on the back of the jersey "Marty Keenan" is secondary. And all three times I finished over twenty five points ahead of the meager 21% Democratic registration in my district. So I represented the team well.

HAYS, Kan. - My first chance to see Kansas Corps in action was in Chapman last April, when more than 50 students from six colleges across the state of Kansas pitched in to provide tornado disaster relief. These students performed a wide-range of services; from removing metal from a creek bed to insulating, framing and dry-walling a home.

The Chapman project was the second pilot project of Kansas Corps. Its first project took place in Melvern in 2008, and saw students from across the state create a hiking and biking trail for that city. Working with the local "Friends of the Trail" committee and their partners, Westar Electric's Green Team, the Kansas Trails Council and the PRIDE organization, these students helped a small community convert a landfill into a health and fitness trail.

Now the real work begins...

WASHINGTON - "I want you to protect the Constitution," expressed a sign carried by a young woman protester at the September 12th Washington D.C. Tea Party. Where was that woman in October 2001, when the USA Patriot Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush? That's when she should have expressed her concern about protecting the Constitution.

Almost eight years later, as the Senate Judiciary Committee met Sept. 23, 2009, to consider reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, Sen. Al Franken (D.-Minn.) read the 4th Amendment to the Constitution in the presence of a Justice Department lawyer who was arguing in favor of reauthorization of the Act.

Campaigning Ideas

OSKALOOSA, Kan. - I want to run through some of the stuff that I have refreshed my mind about when it comes to campaigning for a local office. When it comes to city elections, I have found that one of the biggest things you can do is advertise your campaign in the local newspaper outlet.

Running for City Council in Oskaloosa, Kansas, I found that the folks that will more then likely vote in an off year election will be the ones that read the local paper. I don't know how many people that saw the ads that I ran, and stopped me on the street to ask questions about my campaign. They seem to be quite the conversation starter.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, Sarah Tidwell, BSN, MS, RN, the legislative chairperson for the Kansas State Nurses Association met with Rep. Jerry Moran and Rep. Lynn Jenkins while in Washington, DC to share with them what nurses in Kansas want to see contained in health care reform legislation. The following is a summary of what Mrs. Tidwell shared with them while she was in DC and is the body of written correspondence sent to Sen. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. Todd Tiahrt and Rep. Dennis Moore on behalf of Kansas nurses and the patients we care for.

The Kansas State Nurses Association supports a health care system that is patient-centered, comprehensive, accessible, and delivers quality care for all. To achieve this, we must have a workforce policy that fully recognizes the vital role of nurses and other health care providers. Healthcare reform should include the following points...

SALINA, Kan. - At this time, it is estimated that as many as 5 million families already have lost their homes or still face the prospect of losing their homes in just the coming few months. Ever since the financial industry crisis began in mid-2007, even some of the news outlets that I have respected just spit out these words like parrots, "lenders are in a crisis."

A "crisis for lenders" they say. Then, we had the massive bailouts to lenders in late 2008 under Bush and in early 2009 under Obama. Lenders in crisis? It seems like "the media" has always implied, "the good lenders bent the rules a little bit, with all their generosity and compassion, to lend money to certain people who now are refusing to make good on the loans, now thrusting these good lenders into crisis." Why a crisis for lenders? Is that really true?

I submit to you that there's no real harm to lenders, except a little bit of reduction of their extremely high profits of recent years. The only devastation here is the slow and persistent robbing of the middle class to make the ultra richer even wealthier. Please let me explain.

WASHINGTON - Number crunchers are having a political heyday over health-care reform. Yet, one in particular, is having a field day in shaping the debate. A consulting firm known as the Lewin Group, aka United Health, whose research is making the rounds by opponents of the hotly debated public insurance option.

Respectively stated, by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, Lewin Group is an "independent research firm." Rep. Eric Cantor of Va., House Republican whip, says it is "the nonpartisan Lewin Group."

Also, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the key Finance Committee, refers to Lewin Group as "well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country."

What these prominent members of the Republican Party fail to mention is that the Lewin Group is owned entirely by United Health Group, one of this countries mega health insurance providers.

WICHITA, Kan. - Dick Kelsey spent some more of his own hard earned dollars to showcase some of his top brass supporters for his bid for Congress in KS-04. Last week, Kelsey posted this radio spot featuring Kansas GOP Presidential caucus winner Gov. Mike Huckabee in a strong endorsement.

(Script of Huckabee Spot after the jump.)

Letter to Jerry Moran

Throughout the health care debate, I have stressed that more Americans will gain access ... once costs are controlled and reduced. I continue to advocate for... medical liability reform, an increased emphasis on wellness and disease prevention, providing tax incentives to low-income families to retain or purchase private health insurance, implementation of health information technology, and training more medical professionals and encouraging them to practice in underserved areas. I also support finding responsible ways to address the problems caused by pre-existing conditions and to increase the size of the pool of insured. - U.S. Representative Jerry Moran (R-Kansas)
Dear Representative Moran:

In your special edition of "This Week in Congress" you listed several ways that you believe will fix health care.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Representative Lynn Jenkins had, for lack of a better term, a rough August. She finally came back to Kansas to hold town hall meetings (which she failed to personally appear at months earlier). Lynn Jenkins, based on her robo calls, was expecting a largely supportive crowd for her stance as being a member of the party of "no." What Rep. Jenkins discovered was that she could not get away with failures in judgment back home, such as her "Great White Hope" comment. Even more telling of Lynn Jenkins' failure in representing the Second District was her incident in Ottawa where she laughed at an uninsured mother and her son. With such an atrocious trip back home in August, you would expect Rep. Jenkins to be ready to get back to work and actually serve her constituents in some attempt to save face. Unfortunately, this week Representative Jenkins continued her pattern of failure. This Wednesday Rep. Lynn Jenkins released this Tweet:

Meeting with Kansas Bankers this morning and speaking on the floor this afternoon. 10:37 AM Sep 15th from Facebook

TOPEKA, Kan. - Having had very intelligent conversations with many who identify themselves as Republicans, with any luck common sense will prevail when ballots offer an alternative to Lynn Jenkins in 2010.

Many people in recent years have come to realize that the GOP has abandoned its stance on limited government. After all, under the Republican controlled White House, Senate, and House, government expanded.

Conventional wisdom that says Democrats are most likely to break the piggy bank was thrown out after the Carter Administration. Still, many fear an increased Democratic majority in Congress topped by a Democratic president. Yet, the proof is in the pudding, Democrats spend less than the party who decries no spending.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently received a grant of $576,000 from the Centers for Disease Control to work toward eliminating infections patients receive while being cared for in our hospitals and other facilities such as doctors' offices and nursing homes. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allotted a total of $40 Million to help states combat this growing problem.

This grant is particularly valuable as many infections acquired in this manner are increasingly resistant to conventional antibiotic therapy. Examples of these pathogens are vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficlile (C-diff). These problematic infections can occur while patients have long-term indwelling urinary catheters, and may also affect surgical incisions post-operatively. These super bugs are particularly dangerous when the infection advances and enters the blood stream, potentially causing septic shock and death if prompt, aggressive action isn't taken. Appropriate isolation practices regarding infected patients and scrupulous hand hygiene are key in mitigating risks in health care settings.

Most biographies about the Kennedys are either written to make them look better than they are or worse than they are. This team effort by the Boston Globe is right in the middle.

It appears to be an honest effort to summarize the nature of Ted Kennedy: his substantial personal failings, coupled with his efforts to compensate for those failings with overarching legislative accomplishments and small acts of personal generosity.

Until I read this book, Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, I never believed those who said Ted Kennedy had more impact on American legislative history than Jack or Bobby. But I believe it now.

More than Jack or Bobby, Ted was a natural politician, and a natural Senator. He was a throwback to his maternal grandfather, "Honey Fitz," who loved meeting people and plunging into crowds.

GREENSBURG, Kan. - In May of 2007, Greensburg was struck with tragedy. A colossal tornado ripped through the town of 900, killing 11 people and destroying 95 percent of the community.

Left with nothing, the town made the decision to rebuild as the "greenest town in rural America." But now, as reported in the New York Times, Greensburg's efforts are setting them apart as one of the most environmentally-advanced towns in the country.

Mike Estes owns a John Deere dealership in Greensburg that has received the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification, the highest level possible and a goal that has yet to reached by some of the country's biggest cities. Greensburg is also home to a LEED platinum certified arts center and six other buildings anticipate to reach this level.

SALINA, Kan. - Among the ancient Greeks, the dictator was known as the tyrant. His one-man rule was called a tyranny. He ruled with absolute and uncontrolled power. This form of government frequently occurred in the Greek city-states in times of public distress or national danger.

Many of the empires of the East and West were tyrannies, or depotisms. The emperor, king, or potentate was authoritarian in character. This means that he took upon himself the right to rule; his authority was not a grant of powers from the people.

Dictatorships of our own times have much in common with the tyrannies of the ancient world.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Nurses in Kansas and across the nation have joined President Obama in pushing for health insurance reform. One of the longstanding purposes of the Kansas State Nurses Association is working for the "improvement of health standards and the availability of health care services for all people." One of the chief roles a nurse has is to be a staunch patient advocate, so it's no surprise we stand boldly for reform.

Recently, I had a discussion with a colleague who practices in the Kansas City, KS area about the current health insurance reform debate and our first-hand observations as nurses. She underscored the need for urgent reform from not only a practical perspective, but also touched on the political ramifications that command we take action now: "We see the reality of the need for health care insurance reform everyday in the lack of suitable coverage for our patients, decisions on how our long our patients can be hospitalized, in how carefully we must nurse our documentation to qualify for reimbursement, the cost of our own health care policies, and the unsustainable costs to the state and federal government. For those who insist on obstructive negativity in even talking about how to deal with the health care insurance problem, beware, the likelihood of approaching this problem again in the future will be low with such a high political cost being evident," she said.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six announced a new measure to protect seniors from being exploited by fraudulent schemes: The Senior Consumer Advisory Council.

"Our experience shows us that seniors are often targeted by scams and fraud. This new advisory council will help us stay ahead of the curve in our effort to protect elderly Kansans from consumer fraud," Six said.

The Kansas Attorney General's office reports that seniors are being targeted more frequently as of late by mail and email scams as well as identity theft and other types of financial fraud.

In this job market, job seekers need good resources to reach the right employers and hiring agents. Here's a respected resource for those looking for employment in the healthcare, medical, pharmaceutical fields as well as in biotechnology, managed care, insurance or hospitals.

In this job market, job seekers need good resources to reach the right employers and hiring agents. Here's a respected resource for those looking for employment in the healthcare, medical, biotech, managed care or hospital fields.

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