Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: February 2011

military-army-war.jpgWASHINGTON - When Gen and President Dwight D Eisenhower warned America in his presidential farewell address against the military industrial complex, he was far seeing. And we, the taxpayers of the United States weren't listening and didn't pay attention. We have let the growth of the Defense, the Pentagon Budget lose all perspective in importance. Projects are being put forward, billions spent and wasted on military programs that have no hope of success, and, indeed, are not even wanted. Here are a few.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told The Huffington Post. "NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization - a relic of the Cold War) is a great drain on our treasury and serves no strategic purpose." Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who has argued that the defense budget can be cut without harming military readiness, said Frank's idea has merit. "Barney Frank has a good point," said Korb. "We ought to rethink the whole idea of NATO." Korb continues, "The FY 2010 defense budget was $533.8 billion -- excluding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you add those in, it comes out to a whopping $663.8 billion, which is "more than the combined defense expenditures of the next 17 countries." He estimates that approximately 20 percent of the baseline defense budget is NATO-related, resulting in about $100 billion in spending each year.

Civil Union vs. Marriage: No Conflict

ELLIS, Kan. - The marriage controversy is not new - not simply a controversy, but a battle. The issue is framed in such an "either-or" way that the public is tricked into taking positions that are neither kind nor logical. A commentator on NPR mentioned the other night that President Obama could see a case for a strong civil union arrangement for same-sex partners, but was having trouble coming to terms with the idea of same-sex marriages. So, even the president has fallen for the "straw man" tactic.

The solution has been available all the time the battle here in the United States has been raging. Civil governments should not be in the marriage business at all. Marriage is a religious matter. If a church, or denomination, or other religious body finds that applicants meet that religious body's criteria for marriage, then let that religious body marry the applicants according to its own rites and procedures. Marriage, as such, should have a moral, religious, even sentimental standing, but not a legal standing.

Participants to stand with Wisconsin in national day of action and to focus on issues of concern to all Kansans.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On Saturday, February 26, local Kansas citizens, including teachers and other public sector workers, will hold a rally outside of the state capitol building in Topeka to 'Save the American Dream.'

The noon rally is being held in solidarity with Wisconsinites who like Kansans are under attack from extremist legislative action.

We want to send a message that common values like good schools, social services and responsible government remain mainstream Kansas values and individuals that try to erode those are out of touch with what Kansans want.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) is a union for executive branch state employees, and the largest union of state employees in Kansas. KOSE Executive Director Jane Carter recently issued the following prepared statement:

"The recent vote in the House should have never happened; HB 2130, the 'Paycheck Deception Bill' is nothing more than discrimination against union members and their political institutions. This bill restricts the use of funds collected, in part, through the state government's payroll system as a result of paycheck deductions affirmatively authorized by a state employee for a non-partisan political action committee. This bill does nothing for average union members but tell them how and what they can use their paychecks for...

The Pizza Man Delivers Solidarity

working.gifWICHITA, Kan. - Those who remember Hill Street Blues, a 1980's police drama groundbreaking for its realism, remember that public defender Joyce Davenport called Captain Frank Furillo, "pizza man" during tender scenes between them. Fans of the show know that Furillo delivered, both on and off the job. Sunday, I called a pizza place in Madison, Wisconsin, Ian's Pizza, and after being on hold with the message that Ian's was closed and was taking orders only for delivery to the protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol, I talked to a nice guy who took my pizza order and laughingly assured that no Tea Partiers would get the pizza I ordered.

PhotobucketMANHATTAN, Kan. - If one listens to the rhetoric of right-wing pundits and politicians, our nation is in peril from a massive immigration of people from south of our border with Mexico.

The only problem is that the very policies these same ideologues hold up as the saving truths - free market capitalism, free trade zones, and no tariffs - are the very reasons why people in the global south must leave their homes and move in order to survive. Add to this mix the attacks on immigrants in Kansas being carried out by the xenophobic Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, and the lack of comprehensive coverage by the mainstream media of the important role immigration plays in the Kansas economy has lead to an atmosphere fear and ignorance on this complex issue.

In response, the Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice is please to announce photojournalist, editor, union and immigrant rights activist David Bacon will deliver Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants for their Spring Lecture at K-State on February 28th. Bacon will speak at 7:00pm in Forum Hall of the K-State Student Union.

social-security-poster-1939-2.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Today is the first day of the week that President Obama and the Republican House are to go at it, as my father used to say, hammer and tongs on the budget and the deficit.

Obama is proposing a budget of 3.7 trillion dollars, a budget that he claims will reduce the deficit 1.1 trillion in the next decade. Of course, Speaker of the House Boehner immediately stated that that 1.1 trillion-deficit reduction was not enough. What both of them, in fact most of our elected representatives and senators, ignore completely are the entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare. They don't want to talk about those benefits paid for over a lifetime of work by 94.7% of the American population.

That is a simple problem to solve, depending on whether the conservatives are willing to solve it despite having to listen to the screaming and gnashing of teeth (pardon the cliché) from the bank and Wall Street executives drawing obscenely monstrous bonuses and the Kochs, et al at the very top of the income tower.

Think First? Duh.

COLBY, Kan. - Connie O'Brien is not in my district and with the intelligence of her remarkable ability to identify real American citizens, I'm glad she isn't.

Here's the example: (condensed transcript)

Rep. Sean Gatewood (D-Topeka): "Can you expand on how you could tell that they were illegal?"

Rep. Connie O'Brien (R-Tonganoxie): "Well she wasn't black, she wasn't Asian, and she had the olive complexion."

allen-schmidt.jpgHAYS, Kan. - This week marked the end of one era and the beginning of another era for the Democratic Party in western Kansas.

Committee members who represent the precincts of the 36th Senatorial District convened at Professor's Banquet and Catering Center in Hays on Wednesday night to elect a replacement for former Senator Janis Lee, who resigned in late January upon her confirmation to the Tax Appeals Court. After 23 years of service in the Senate, Lee's wisdom and experience cannot be immediately replaced. Committee members elected a Hays man, Allen Schmidt -- dairy farmer, retired military officer, and medical services consultant -- to fulfill the remainder of the term Lee was re-elected to serve in 2008.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On Wednesday, February 10 members of the Kansas Voter Coalition presented testimony in opposition to HB 2067 in the Kansas House Elections Committee. HB 2067 is called the "SAFE" act by its author, Secretary Kris Kobach. The "Safe and Fair Elections" act is a voter suppression bill... pure and simple.

While many of its proponents see it as a way to keep the integrity of our elections there are many provisions contained within the bill that erect hurdles to legitimate voters. It will virtually eliminate door to door and mobile registration and "get out the vote" efforts. The opposing organizations ranged from the AARP, a disabilities rights organization, Kansas Equality Coalition, the Kansas NAACP, Kansas/Mid-MO ACLU, the American Federation of Teachers and the Kansas League of Women Voters.

The Silence Was Too Much for Us

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. - "Desperately determined to do something desperate," Arthur Inghram Baker went for a walk in Council Grove one February night 150 years ago. He climbed a steep ridge he called Fountain Hill, today's Belfry Hill, looming high over the west side of the Neosho River Valley. It was "cold as blue Blixen, -- it was cloudy, too, and dark."

Standing there alone in the night, Baker felt disconsolate. In January he had become editor and publisher of the Council Grove Press, but his start in the newspaper business had been hampered by the vicissitudes of Kansas weather. During the previous four weeks one snowstorm after another had swept through. Emporia reported two feet of snow. Travel on both the Santa Fe and Fort Scott roads, Council Grove's lifelines to the outside world, was impossible.

A Modest Proposal

WICHITA, Kan. - Ah, those tight state budgets. What to do? The days of big federal dollars pouring into state coffers are gone as the national debt continues to climb. How can we alter this economic conundrum and come up with something more appetizing than cutting education and the arts? I would like to make a modest proposal to that end.

In his new book Pendulum Swing, political scientist Larry J. Sabato, has presented shocking information about campaign spending. The 2010 midterm elections were the most expensive EVER! The figure is staggering; $4 billion spent with about $564 million coming from outside sources and $2 million from congressional campaign committees.

In the race to buy the most expensive candidates, why not make political campaign contributions part of the effort to pay off the national debt? Don't think of this as a tax but as a charitable contribution to the country.

Stimulating Opinion Articles

man-reading-newspaper.jpgCOLBY, Kan. - Congratulations to Vickie for her recent article. She may have set the record for motivating response to opinion articles here at Kansas Free Press (KFP).

Our editor-in-chief says we have over 332,000 people who came in and browsed the menu at KFP in the month of January 2011. Our editor also tells us that from 11,000 to 17,000 unique visitors come to KFP's website every day! We all appreciate those who take the time and effort to join in the discussions, both pro and con to our articles. We also appreciate that our regular contributors and visitors show courtesy and respect, even for those with quite differing opinions.

When we look around the world and observe the conflicts between people and nations, we can't help but notice that religion is a major contributor to the world's conflicts. I don't think any single brand of religion is free from radical extremists. All religions and non-religions (Judaism, Muslim, Christian, atheists, humanists, naturalists, etc.) have those who wish to dominate society around them.

PhotobucketMANHATTAN, Kan. - The Landon Lecture series at K-State opened the 2011 season with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday January 27th. Sotomayor spoke in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union, becoming the third Supreme Court justice to address the K-State student body, following Earl Warren and Sandra Day O'Connor.

Breaking with tradition and creating the atmosphere of an armchair chat, Sotomayor took questions in a forum format from District Justices Deanell Tacha and John Lungstrum who were joined by Danny Unruh, K-State student body president.

Sotomayor had braved the inclement weather on the east coast to come to K-State, saying when she left Washington that morning her home was without power.

Judge Tacha opened the discussion asking Sotomayor to describe her day so that the audience could get a better idea of what it is like to serve on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor responded that she reads a lot, spending her weekends chewing through circuit briefs and court decisions, in order to be able to engage with the other justices in the decision making process. "Getting four people to agree is difficult," she said.

GasLand: Fracking Our Future

PhotobucketMANHATTAN, Kan. - The Manhattan Monthly Film Series continues in February with the showing of the Josh Fox's GasLand, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film will be shown at 6:30 pm on Wednesday February 9th at the Manhattan Public Library. The film is free of charge and open to the public.

GasLand looks into the Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing that has contributed to the largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history. But serious questions exist to its safety and environmental impact.

Director Josh Fox becomes personally involved with the issue when he is asked to lease his land for drilling. Unable to get his questions answered, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and environmental contamination. A recently drilled Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. The film is part verité travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown. It informs the American people about another legacy given to us by the Bush administration.

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About This Page

This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in February 2011. These are listed from newest to oldest.

January 2011 is the previous archive and March 2011 is the next one.

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