Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: December 2010


Nepaholla Dreams (Part Three of Four Parts)

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. - So we have completed two regional visits, dabbling a bit in the mysteries of story and geography. What are we to make of this? What, indeed, is the point?

A full explication will not be forthcoming here. I will only position a few signposts, five to be exact, that help me, and perhaps you, engage the challenge posed by the somewhat immodest title of this article -- "Reclaiming the Sacred in the Kansas Landscape." Each of these warrants a full essay in itself, a task deferred for now.

The signposts:

1. Acknowledge the losses.
2. The sacred is located in relationship.
3. Language matters.
4. Place matters.
5. It's not over, it's just beginning.

kansas-chamber-of-commerce.jpgHUTCHINSON, Kan. - And the hypocrisy reveals itself. Many tried to warn of the duplicity in the Republican Party when it comes to immigration issues but few would listen.

When the Republican dominated Kansas legislature tried to address issues of misclassification and e-verify several years ago, it was met with strong opposition from Chamber of Commerce and eventually withered on the vine.

Now the author of the Arizona immigration laws and darling of the TEA Party, Sec. of State-elect Kris Kobach, is doing just as might be expected by fanning the flames in Kansas to resurrect these issues.

Martha's Story

WICHITA, Kan. - In between the rush of grading finals and the chaos of the holidays, my Aunt Martha passed away. She was 91 and lived her entire life in Wapello County, Iowa. I told Martha's Story briefly before a subcommittee of the Kansas Legislature many years ago when legislators were debating yet again more restrictions to burden women in their right to seek a legal abortion. The legislators were unmoved by Martha's Story.

I did not know Martha's story until I was about to graduate from high school. What I always believed was that Martha never found anyone to marry. When my grandfather died, the farm was sold and with my grandmother, moved to the city. She spent her life cleaning the big Antebellum looking houses on the north side of town in Ottumwa, Iowa where the wealthy residents lived. At the end of the day she would take the bus back to the south side of town and go home to a tiny house she shared with her widowed mother. As an 'Old Maid', Martha naturally had a duty to care for her mother. It seemed a good arrangement for a woman who at least would have some companionship instead of living alone. At least, that is how I viewed her life as a young adult and knowing nothing of her history.

Of course, I did not want to duplicate Martha's life. I felt sorry for her. She worked hard and there was an undercurrent that Martha was in a kind of limbo status in the family. She constantly had to ask others for assistance like a child since she had very little resources but many duties. As her niece, I clearly understood she did not command a great deal of respect due to her spinsterhood status, or so I thought.

Here They Come

COLBY, Kan. - What is the real Republican administration's agenda? I just received the following information in an email message from the KDP. If you are not on their mailing list, this message should alert you to get on it.

BREAKING: The Resurrection of Phill Kline

TOPEKA, KS - Kansans received an unwelcome Christmas Eve gift last Friday. Secretary of State Elect Kris Kobach announced the hiring of his top lieutenant on the day before a long holiday weekend, effectively burying it. It's news worth hiding. Kobach chose Eric Rucker, the long-time top lieutenant to disgraced former Attorney General Phill Kline. In fact, Mr. Rucker is still being investigated for his involvement in the invasion of thousands of Kansans' medical privacy.

It gets worse. Today, Governor Elect Sam Brownback announced his chief counsel would be another top Phill Kline lieutenant, Caleb Stegall. This is nothing short of the resurrection of Phill Kline. Phill Kline was thrown from office just four years ago because he violated the medical privacy of Kansans in pursuit of his own extreme political agenda. Phill Kline is the poster child of an entire political era defined by Republicans using state government to further divisive social issues.

That era is back. Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach have taught Kansans a tough lesson. The "new" Republican Party is the same as the old Republican Party. They are more interested in furthering extreme political agendas and fighting for special interests then in rebuilding our state's economy, providing world-class schools for our children and creating jobs for everyday Kansans.

WICHITA, Kan. - If Kansans want to understand their own local politics a bit better they might want to read Joan Waugh's biography: U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth. Waugh sets out to try and explain why so many Americans today believe Grant was a corrupt politician who drank his way to victory during the Civil War with callous disregard for his troops by sending them to their slaughter. She adeptly explains that this version of Grant was constructed by southern historians who did not think too highly of the common farmer who bested the elegant and aristocratic Virginian, Robert E. Lee.

Surprisingly we learn that Grant was a very gentle man, whose father made him attend West Point and whose skills in horsemanship had few equals but many admirers. Grant understood precisely why war was being waged. The South tied itself to an evil institution. To hold onto slavery meant maintaining power in Washington, D.C.


Mayor & CEO
Joe Reardon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A recent headline in the Kansas City Star announced Wyandotte County in the midst of a historic building boom. Wyandotte County, located in the northeast corner of the state, includes Kansas City, Kansas, as well as several other municipalities, and is governed by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas.

While Kevin Collins, the reporter who wrote the Star article, details several of the construction projects that are fueling the Wyandotte County economic boom, one thing he failed to mention was that Wyandotte County is the only county in Kansas that has been governed for years by Big D Democrats. It also is the only county in the state that in the November 2010 election returned all its Democratic representatives to the state legislature and Democrat Janet Waugh to the State Board of Education.

Bigotry and Bullying at Christmas

WICHITA, Kan. - Christmas time is supposed to be a time of peace and joy, giving, family etc.. While I'm not a cheerleader for Christmas by any means, in fact most of the time I do the bare minimum required in celebrating the holiday. I think hanging with mostly forgotten Krampus would be much more fun than hanging with Santa or the obnoxious elves. But I appreciate the spirit and message of Christmas, which after my somewhat rambling introduction leads to the point of this article.

Despite the nature of Christmas supposing to be one of giving and peace, the fact that for one individual it is a time of bullying and bigotry. Rudolph because of a minor disfigurement was laughed at and called names, excluded from athletic endeavors despite the fact that his disfigurement was mostly cosmetic and in no way affected his performance. Only in that Rudolph's disfigurement allowed for the passage of a sleigh through inclement weather was he not further ostracized, I however think that people should be accepted for who they are and not just because they are found to be useful.

That would be a good Christmas message.

people-voting.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Kansas NOW is an organizational member of the Kansas Voter Coalition. This coalition is comprised of progressive organizations within the state that have joined forces to defeat the proposed Voter ID Law being pursued by Secretary of State-Elect Kris Kobach.

Mr. Kobach is an anti-immigration zealot, who wrote the infamous Arizona immigration law. A recent Washington Times headline coined him as "An Anti-illegals Activist." Why the voters of Kansas chose to elect an "activist" to an apolitical post such as Secretary of State is beyond me, but I digress.

Voter ID might seem like a matter that would blink dimly on Kansas feminist radar, but I am quickly learning just how important this issue is for the women of the state.

HAYS, Kan. - William Herzog's slim volume, Parables As Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed (Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), is deceptively heavy in concept at points, and deceptively heavy in implications.

At first glance, a treatment of the parables of Jesus would seem to be of interest only to Christian persons of theological inclination. Of course it would be of interest to that sector, at least to those who are willing to ponder an alternative understanding of Jesus' meaning in certain parables and, by extension, an alternative understanding of what Jesus was about in his earthly ministry. The volume might be also of interest to Jews and Muslims, the other two "religions of The Book." They might be interested to know that the Christianity that has impacted them is not the Christianity that might have been, or the Christianity that might come to be.

Peace and Goodwill Toward All Mankind

COLBY, Kan. - Let us, for this season, forget our differences over the proper definition and way to celebrate.

For my Christian friends: May you have a blessed and merry Christmas as we celebrate our Saviour's birth, exchange gifts, and gather family and friends. For my non-Christian friends (and, yes, I have many) may this be a rewarding and happy season as you celebrate in your own way.

Peace. How do you define peace? Is it simply the absence of conflict?

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - Here at the Christmas season it is so wonderful to spend time with family and friends -- to share the beauty. But the season also makes us miss even more the family members who are not here. In particular, I miss my mother, who died in 2008.

I thought of my mom last week when the movie my husband and I were watching was interrupted by breaking news: "The Senate has repealed Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell." I felt a surge of exhilaration: We as a society were rejecting one more form of discrimination!

Still, I could not help but wonder at the euphoria I felt. It was as if I had been suffering from an ache I wasn't aware of until it went away. I guess I was discovering that the adage about "an injury to one is an injury to all" can be literally true. I had been painfully aware of the injustice of allowing gays to risk their lives for our country, to offer us all their gifts and talents, only to be dismissed from service if their identities were revealed. Now it was like the old joke: "Why are you hitting yourself on the head?" "Because it feels so good when it stops." By ending anti-gay discrimination in the military, our country had stopped hitting itself on the head. And it felt so good!

But my joy came also from my mother.

Angelo Lopez: Jasper Meets Howard Zinn

Graduation Tells Macro Story

EMPORIA, Kan. - I attended the December graduation ceremony for Emporia State University where my wife is a professor. In casually scanning the brochure that had been prepared to accompany the 'pomp and circumstance,' I noticed an exceedingly larger percentage of business (especially MBA) grads were of Asian or Arab ancestry.

Perhaps that is to be expected given the increasing globalization of the marketplace. Having so many foreign students helps keep tuition for in-state residents lower than it would otherwise be but in the long run I fear we, as a nation, may find ourselves to be little more than mass market consumers of goods made in China, information technology supported from India and over-extended debtors to Saudi princes.

What a shame.

Republicans, Platforms, and Mandates

HAYS, Kan. - My father was a Republican. He was conscientious in his party affiliation, conscientious in forming political opinions, conscientious in the use of the language, and, when the chips were down, conscientious in a few other areas. Here is my father's understanding (in my words) of the core philosophy of the Republican Party, as compared to his understanding of the core philosophy of the Democratic Party.

My father understood that, when the Republican Party succeeded in electing candidates to public office, they were elected because of their proven ability, their history of reliability, their education, a specific background that had prepared them for this particular office, and their dedication to the public good, which called them to set aside their successful private pursuits to accept a term in public office. Once in office, the Republican incumbents were to use their very best judgment in acting upon those matters that came officially before them.


Rep. Garcia, Joe Ewers (IAM),
Miriam Pawel, Sandy Nathan
WICHITA, Kan. - On October 25, author Miriam Pawel gave a talk at Wichita's Watermark Books on her new book The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement.

The book is not a biography of Cesar Chavez or a history of the United Farmworkers. Rather it is a collective biography of eight people who jointed the farm workers movement and played important roles in the movement.

They include Eliseo Medina who was recently elected Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU, making him the highest ranking Mexican-American in the US labor movement. Another of the eight was actually at the reading: Sandy Nathan, who worked on the legal team for the UFW.

WICHITA, Kan. - Every American should read this article, especially those of us who are losing faith and becoming impatient. Two friends sent this on to me, Lynn Stephans and Mary Cole and I am grateful for their activism. Please take the time to read Canadian William Thomas' column.

Open Debate and Discussion

COLBY, Kan. - Wheeee!!!! David set the bushes (no pun intended) on fire with his essay: Raw Deals and Emotions: The Morning After.

I just happen to agree with most of what he wrote. I also respect the right of others, who do not agree, to express their disagreement.

HOBOKEN, N.J. - A highly respected friend and colleague told me I should be careful venting rage in such a powerful forum as Kansas Free Press. He thought that the article I wrote in response to Obama's compromise over tax cuts for millionaires was so fueled with rage that it sounded as if I was advocating against supporting Democrats. Right off the bat let me disabuse anyone who may have shared his impression. Yes, I was enraged, and I think I was expressing the justifiable anger of the heartland. But no, I don't want to abandon the country to the right wing. I just want the Democrats to fight as fiercely as they do.

The Raw Deal

HOBOKEN, N.J. - Now I'm really mad. Today Obama and the Republicans reached an agreement to give a nice big fat bonus to millionaires and billionaires for the next two years, costing our budget multibillions of dollars. Then in a gesture to the less fortunate the stately congresspeople (who all have socialist healthcare for life) reluctantly consented to an extension of unemployment benefits -- ah! But only for 13 months -- because those people are going to have to work for what they get! For them it's austerity! What do they think? That they can just slack off and do nothing and still expect the privileges of having a roof over their heads, food and access to medical care? Those aren't for everyone! You have to work and show us you are worthy of those privileges. If you're not the one in six who applies for every job who actually gets it, well, better luck next time. Meanwhile, don't worry about the little tax law that allows us to siphon off most of the wealth of the country through layers and layers of accounting tricks.

COLBY, Kan. - The Democratic Party in Kansas is suffering severe depression after the recent election.

Like the advice from the old gambler, we are going to have to play the hand we've been dealt. We will have to know when to fold on some issues and when to hold on others. We may even have to walk away from the table, now and then. But, going beyond the advice the sage old gambler gave to the young man, we will have to return to the table and start a new game or we will never be successful in the game of politics and public policy.

We may need to build a new platform, and design new missiles to launch if we intend to ever change the attitude, environment, and the social standards of our state.

Are we satisfied with the status quo or do we see areas that deserve and need improvement?

Uneasy Burials on McDowell Creek

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - Learning history is like reading a detective story--pretty soon you can't put it down. But history offers no final chapter where everything is explained. With history, the surprises just keep coming.

For example, I learned about one contentious burial here in my own community at the end of the nineteenth century that at first seemed a simple case of racism. In 1869, the Estes family migrated from North Carolina to McDowell Creek, where they helped to found the Briggs community.

They brought an African-American household servant and her daughter with them. The daughter grew up, married a soldier from the fort, and moved to New York, but the mother -- Delilah Estes, or "Lila," as she was known -- stayed with the family until her death in the 1890s. Joe Estes wanted Lila buried in the Briggs Cemetery, but the township board refused.

A fellow North Carolinian named Maxwell Ramsour -- who had provided the land for the cemetery in the first place -- contacted Joe and offered to bury Delilah on his own land. Ramsour's property adjoined the cemetery, and he dug a grave just outside the cemetery fence. That's where Delilah Estes was laid to rest. This solution did not soothe Joe's anger, however, and he immediately changed his own burial plans. "If Briggs Cemetery is too good for a Christian woman like Lila, then it's too good for me," he is reputed to have said. Indeed, when his own time came, he was buried in Fairview Cemetery, not Briggs Cemetery.

WICHITA, Kan. - Today's US Senate agenda holds a pair of votes, one on a proposal to extend all expiring Bush era tax cuts on individuals with incomes of less than $200,000 a year and married couples making less than $250,000; the other to renew them for all tax filers with incomes of less than $1 million. These are practical bills in light of the current deficit worries of some. They would tax the rich and keep some extra money in the pockets of the poor and middle class. But Americans who like to make bets on such matters succeeding or not would be wise to bet against passage of either option.

Led by Sen. McConnell, their arrogant minority leader in the Senate, Republicans plan to circumvent sanity and prevent passage of both bills to further the interests of the super rich individuals and corporations such as the Koch brothers. As if the pockets of the super rich needed even more bounty in their pockets and treasure chests.

Americans cannot possibly be thinking about what they read and hear.

The $1.47 Holiday Rip-off

WICHITA, Kan. - Three weeks ago, I got a letter from the Wichita Eagle informing me I would be charged an extra $1.47 for the Thanksgiving Day edition of the paper. My subscription fee is automatically deducted from my checking account every month, making the subscription less than what I would pay at the news stand and less than what I would pay if I wrote a check every month. This automatic deduction also gives me access to online services that I could use if I wanted to and it allows me to keep the subscription current without worrying about it.

Many people, including my children, have canceled their print newspaper subscriptions and now read the paper online. I, being of the generation that grew up drinking my morning coffee with a newspaper in my hand, don't want to fire up my computer first thing in the morning to read the news and do the puzzles. I know reading a print version of the paper makes me a dinosaur nowadays, but I don't care. The morning paper in my hands is a pleasure I don't want to give up.

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About This Page

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

November 2010 is the previous archive and January 2011 is the next one.

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