Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: November 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The recent Bowles-Simpson bipartisan committee released their report that providing for future cuts in programs such as Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, military pay, military health care and unemployment insurance, all programs that take money out of the hands of people who need it and will spend it, thereby helping businesses.

Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, a member of the Bowles-Simpson committee charged with making proposals to eliminate the deficit, has proposed her own program which targets changes at the opposite end of the economic spectrum - corporations and the wealthy.

Schakowsky developed her plan as an alternative to the Bowles-Simpson plan because she is committed to saving money for the middle class and the poor who had nothing to do with creating the deficit and long-term debt. The debt was created to benefit banks, those families in the 1.4% at the top of the income ladder and big business. As Warren Buffet recently said, "We (the richest) do not need the benefits; take it (taxes) from us."

GREAT BEND, Kan. - I wanted to wait to post this article until after campaign season. Now is a good time.

I am a firm believer that those who chase "glass ambulances" (personal injury attorneys) should not cast stones, so when an attorney here in Great Bend sent out a nasty-gram attacking my father and deceased grandfather (Korean War Veteran), I was shocked. Who attacks a deceased veteran?

What surprised me even more was the reason he attacked them. Mr. Richard Friedeman attacked my family members for being involved in a union. I never thought I would live to see the day when hard working American's were looked down upon.

Resistance Movements

HAYS, Kan. - On the day before Thanksgiving, on NPR, we heard an abundance of commentary on the Transportation Safety Agency's "full-body scans" and "enhanced pat-down procedures" for passengers boarding scheduled airline flights. One of the critical remarks made was that the movement "...had no center." I took this to mean that the speaker thought a movement could not be effective if it were not orchestrated or choreographed by some sort of central entity. I took his words to mean that participants in a resistance movement had to be mere instruments of the central entity and that the role of ordinary participants is only to act in "lock-step" as extensions of that central consciousness. Not only do I disagree, but I firmly submit that spontaneous movements, in which each participant acts according to his or her own understanding, inspiration, and conscience, are the most effective movements. It appears now, as I write on Thanksgiving Day, that the threat of mass refusal to accept the full-body scan fizzled. On the other hand, as a result of this expression of spontaneous resistance, it appears that the government has stated an intent to re-evaluate security techniques and procedures. In any case, the issue has reminded me that spontaneous resistance movements are worthy of examination and discussion.

'Unconstitutional' Scream du Jour

OLATHE, Kan. - Well, they're at it again. The "unconstitutional" crowd. Mike Huckabee is the latest demagogue to find something unconstitutional. (Do you ever get the feeling that these "unconstitutionalists" are former communist hunters who've lost their enemy and are creating a new one out of whole cloth? Don't they have lives? Don't they have anything better to do?)

Now Huckabee is ranting about the TSA's mandatory full-body scan or alternative enhanced pat down. Challenging President Obama to have his immediate family go through the procedure, Huckabee says,

"If it's OK for your wife, your daughters, and your mother-in-law, then maybe the rest of us won't feel so bad when our wives, our daughters and our mothers are being put through this humiliating and degrading, totally unconstitutional, intrusion of their privacy."

I fly a lot. I don't like the scanners and I don't like the pat downs. But this isn't a constitutional issue.

The Democrats and the Left

donkey-on-ladder.jpgHUDSON HIGHLANDS, N.Y. - Like President Obama, I would rather think about policy than politics. But the Democrats are so bad at politics that maybe even I can offer them advice.

Democrats, you lose credit with everyone when you show no respect for your progressive base.

They lose patience with you, moderates start to wonder what you stand for, and conservatives smell blood. Fewer than half of eligible voters participate in midterm elections: midterms are always a contest between who manages to most excite their base. You lost the midterms by failing to excite your base and failing to show moderates that you stand for something.

Kansas Writers: We Need Articles!

COLBY, Kan. - We are doing a little better in Kansas Free Press than Everyday Citizen is, but that's not good enough! 12 articles by 10 journalists over a period of 20 days isn't very impressive.

With the talent and diverse experiences of our writers, we should be doing better. We can't wield much influence if we don't produce.

books-line-drawing.gifOLATHE, Kan. - As the Brownback administration prepares to do battle with the citizens of Kansas, it's time to look again at the arguments that corporations and religious conservatives will be using to promote school vouchers and other privatization schemes.

In her now-aging-but-still-relevant article, Why The Right Hates Public Education, Barbara Miner lists the following as a few reasons:

  • Education is a multibillion dollar market, and the private sector is eager to get its hands on those dollars.
  • Conservatives are devoted to the free market and believe that private is inherently superior to public.
  • Shrinking public education furthers the Republican Party goal of drastically reducing the public sector.
  • Privatization undermines teacher unions, a key base of support for the Democratic Party.
  • Privatization rhetoric can be used to woo African American and Latino voters to the Republican Party.
  • I'd like to offer a few additional reasons that corporate and right-wing religious interests have in killing public education ...


    sam-brownback.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Sen. Sam Brownback will take on the title of Gov. Sam Brownback in January when he becomes the new governor of Kansas. He joins ninety-two Republicans, many of them replacing liberal Democrats or moderate Republicans, in the Kansas Legislature as the Kansas manifestation of the massive right-wing takeover of America that occurred in the Nov. 2, 2010, election. Many liberals have already bemoaned this rightward shift in the Kansas political landscape, which except for the short-lived two-L Phill Kline aberration in the early 2000s, has tended to fit into the moderate to liberal spectrum.

    People laud Brownback for his stand against human trafficking around the world and against genocide in Darfur. Who can argue with Brownback's stand on these issues, stands that certainly have relevance in foreign countries? What about his stands on human rights in America? Let's just say unless you're a zygote that might be useful in stem cell research or a fetus that is causing grief for the woman that is carrying it, fuggedabuotit, as they say in Soprano-land. For you see, in SamBrownbackWorld, the only good woman is the woman who has her babies for the sake of the country, specifically to keep Social Security out of deficit territory.

    kris-kobach.jpgEMPORIA, Kan. - The California Supreme Court ruled today that it is constitutional for the State of California to offer in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants who have successfully attended high school and would otherwise qualify. (Here's the link.)

    What's the connection to Kansas you may ask? Kris Kobach, the recently elected Kansas Secretary of State, staked his entire (only slightly less than literally) campaign on his supposed expertise as a "constitutional lawyer." Moreover, Kobach touted his involvement and support to various political organizations around the country in "fighting" against illegal immigrants in general and especially against states offering in-state tuition benefits. He's also against the proposed federal DREAM Act which would provide similar treatment.

    Mr. Kobach is not a mere bystander in this case. He filed an amicus brief on behalf of the opponents of the California law.

    HAYS, Kan. - "My name is Wendell Potter and for 20 years I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies, and I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick -- all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors." This is how he introduced himself to a Senate committee.

    As a senior vice president of CIGNA, Potter had access to the inner workings of major insurance companies.

    He had walked away from a six-figure salary and two decades as an insurance executive because he could no longer abide the routine practices of an industry where the needs of sick and suffering Americans take a backseat to the bottom line. The last straw: when he visited a rural health clinic and saw hundreds of Americans standing in line in the rain to receive treatment in stalls built for livestock.

    Truth tellers, like Potter, are becoming the insurance industry's worst nightmares.

    The GOP and Earmarks

    BASEHOR, Kan.- Kimberley Strassel, in a November 12 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, desperately exhorted the Republican Party to hold the line on earmarks.

    I say "desperately" because she admitted that it will be extremely difficult to align big-business Republicans who want every bit of pork and special interest legislation they can gobble up, with the Tea Party, which claims it wants no earmarks at all in the name of fiscal conservatism. What's truly telling from Strassel, whose everyday invective makes her sound like an Ann Coulter wannabe, is this:

    Republicans are not going to be able to repeal ObamaCare, are unlikely to be able to permanently extend the Bush tax rates, and will struggle to roll back the worst Obama regulations. But an earmark ban is one exception they can fulfill. Immediately.

    OLATHE, Kan. - David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director, uttered these words during a 60 Minutes interview on October 31, "...the Republican Party... should be ashamed of themselves." He was referring to the Republicans' insistence on tax cuts. Worse, he called their incessant chant "rank demagoguery."

    In his Nov.8-14 Business Week article, John Meacham hearkens back to Daniel Patrick Moynihan's concern about crazies on both sides of the political spectrum, and the lack of a cool-headed center that respects all sides.

    In the November 15 issue of Time magazine, Fareed Zakaria makes the point that the Republicans have another chance to show that they're not just a party of white, southern men -- a demographic cohort that is shrinking rapidly amid ever-increasing "minority" voters who lean heavily Democratic.

    War Is a Racket

    "Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. ...

    "Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote."

    WICHITA, Kan. - Yesterday was Veterans Day and of course we all hear the same story, how we should honor veterans. We should do a better job than we currently do now of making sure they receive care they need. We also hear a lot about how we owe our freedoms to veterans.

    That isn't completely true. More often than not our military heroes are squandered in use of a corporate master. This isn't a new concept. Two time Medal of Honor winner Smedley Butler knew this over 70 years ago and can articulate it better than I ...

    Nepaholla Dreams (Part Two of Four Parts)

    COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. - So we're back in Manhattan ready for another road trip. This time we head east on Highway 24, cross the Big Blue River, its Kanza name Man yinka tu hu u dje', and as we approach the sales barn on the right, we salute the site of the Kanza village of Igaman-sabe', Euro Americans called it the "Blue Earth Village," occupied by the entire tribe from about 1800 to 1830.

    After leaving the Blue Earth village the Kanza split into at least three village bands, remaining fractured until their occupation of Kansas ended in 1873. A few miles east of Wamego we come to Vermilion Creek on which Hard Chief's village was located from about 1834 to 1845, the Kanza name for both the creek and this village is Tce xu'li'n.

    The Red-headed Stepchild of Politics

    GREAT BEND, Kan. - The federal government is a punching bag for the frustrations that Americans have with politics.

    The federal government is blamed whenever anything goes wrong in our country; it is the red-headed stepchild of America.

    On the flip side whenever anything goes wrong, American's look to big brother for help and a bailout. We can complain as much as we want about the federal government being around, but in the end we also complain when the federal government is not around.

    Natural disasters, insufficient funds, stopping terrorism, are all things we expect from our federal government; especially in this state, as Kansas has a sparse population and less of a tax base than other areas.

    Last year in the state of Kansas Medicaid services were cut by up to 10 percent. As a state we had to depend on the federal government to help us out and ensure seniors' services. So much for the federal government wanting to kill Grandma with death panels; the federal government helped out Grandma in our state.

    Kansas Election Results 2010


    TOPEKA, Kan. - With all precincts now reporting, we have vote totals for the November 2nd general election, supplied to the Kansas Free Press by the Secretary of State. 

    These tallies are exactly the same as those collected from county election officers on election night. Although these numbers are considered 'unofficial' and will not be 'official' until the state canvass later this week, the results are not likely to change.

    To review the details of individual races, see our full page of election results here.


    GIRARD, Kan. - There is not shortage of political cynics in this country. The can not's, will not's, and no way's are abundant. In the board landscape of American political discourse, there are few that will say a good word about the system that has emerged by which we elect our representatives. It isn't pretty.

    Yet, there are those that thrive on it, make a living or a fortune on it, that game it and speculate on it. It is a thrill and it is bummer. You can ignore it or participate in it, either way it is not going away. There it is, democracy.

    The Republican Party wants you to think they have uncorked the champaign; that they are celebrating. They are proclaiming that they have this election in the bag. They don't. They don't, unless they have convinced you that your vote is futile.

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    About This Page

    This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in November 2010. These are listed from newest to oldest.

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