Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: August 2011

sam-brownback.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Below is a running tally of the damage done to this state in just eight short months thanks to the Brownback Administration and radical republicans in the Kansas Legislature.

1. Supported action to sign Kansas onto the Virginia/Florida lawsuit declaring "Obamacare" unconstitutional. Even though President Obama won a decisive victory in 2010 on the promise of affordable healthcare for all, the republicans refused to admit they lost the general election and act as if it was treason for the federal government to pass such a dastardly, socialist inspired idea. Bottom line is the state of Kansas has many citizens who need healthcare. Protesting a duly passed piece of legislation by the federal government is sour political grapes and sticking it to the poor as you sanctimoniously claim it will hurt Kansans.

2. Vetoed funding for the Kansas Arts Commission after citizens rallied across the state and lobbied their representatives to save the arts. The Kansas Legislature listened to the people, and approved funding, only to have Sam wipe out the funding with the stroke of his magic pen.

3. Brownback maintained Kansas would still get funding from the NEA(National Endowment for the Arts) even though he wiped out the Kansas Arts Commission. Brownback was wrong; the state received notice it would NOT get matching federal funds from the NEA since the Governor's pet group-Kansas Arts Foundation, was hardly in a position to be trusted with taxpayer money without any clear organization or ability to prove it would not soon collapse.

New Perspective on Immigration Debate

SALINA, Kan. - For a fleeting moment Albuquerque, NM, resident Antonio Diaz Chacon was a hero. Upon witnessing the forcible abduction of a six year-old girl he jumped in his pickup truck and chased the kidnapper until the suspect crashed his vehicle into a light pole. When the individual took off on foot Diaz Chacon reached into the van, grabbed the little girl and whisked her to safety.

For his heroism Mr. Diaz Chacon was honored in a special ceremony by Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, who recognized his bravery with the presentation of a special plaque hailing his effort in foiling the kidnapping.

But shortly thereafter it was revealed, and the young man admitted, that he is an illegal immigrant. Suddenly, he is the focal point of a renewed debate over immigration policy in our country. And many are quick to demonize immigrants. Examples abound.

COLBY, Kan. - I have an email from the Kansas Democratic Party urging me to tell my representative to not rescind the cut in FICA deductions or contributions. I'm not going to do that! The cut should be rescinded.

Why do we think it stimulating the economy to cut the investment in retirement income?

Why do we call ours and our employers' matching investment 'tax'? When we have payroll deductions that are invested in E Bonds or other stocks or bonds, we don't call it 'tax'. I've been told, all my life, that I need to be saving and investing. Now we are being told to stop saving and investing and spend! Short term gratification and pleasure at the expense of long term security and well-being?


MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - After each recent rain, I have been up to my knees in our wetland, cutting cattails. I have been told that cutting below the waterline provides a good non-chemical control. A few cattails are great for wildlife, but if not burned, cut, or flooded, a small stand can quickly spread into a monoculture, sucking up available water and pushing out all other wetland vegetation.

Once I got over my fear of being sucked down into the muck and never heard from again, I enjoyed my task. I had a great pair of shears that allowed me to reach the base of the plants without too much stooping. I learned to use a mat of fallen cattails as a raft to stand on, like a wetland version of snowshoes. However, these "shoes" could suddenly tip, and then locomotion became a challenge -- a matter of extracting one foot from deep muck before the other foot lost its balance. Several times I had to hang onto uncut cattails to keep from falling; I did feel guilty when a few minutes later I cut down those very plants. Atonement (is it ever complete?) came in the form of a surge in biodiversity, with arrowhead, spike rush and smartweed taking hold in the cleared space, and frogs, snakes, and dragonflies moving in to fill the gaps.

Fathoming Our Oil Folly

SALINA, Kan. - Monday, Aug. 22, Kansas staged its own contribution to one of the most important national climate change discussions in decades, thanks to the Eisenhower Center and the KSU Institute for Civil Discourse. The topic: TransCanada's Keystone XL oil pipeline for Alberta tar sands oil. Final decision on XL's final leg is due soon from the U.S. State Department.

TransCanada (TC) wields a big stick: Canada is our single largest oil supplier, ahead of Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

The Aug. 23 Salina Journal story noted the strong audience response to one suggestion. The Kansas Legislature gift-wrapped a present of an estimated $50 million tax abatement that TC doesn't need -- and that no other states gave. When Jim Prescott, TransCanada's representative, insisted his company is a responsible, good neighbor, one citizen suggested TC's good neighbor policy should extend to gifting that $50 million to desperate Kansas kids and schools, where most of the taxes would/should have gone anyway. This reverse-gift idea received strong audience applause.

Prescott did not make that offer.

Bluegrass Is Coming

A moving moment that year came when McCutcheon, Tom Chapin, and others, with Linda Tilton signing, led the crowd in the grandstand in a rousing rendition of, "The Great Storm Is Over." Everyone in the crowd that night needed a chance to come together, without the bitterness of politics and hate, and sing as one voice.

WICHITA, Kan. - It's in the air along about the middle of August. Even though we're still in the heat of summer, and this particular summer has been brutally hot, an undercurrent signals sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Walnut Valley Festival, which has taken place in Winfield, thirty-five miles south of Wichita, on the third weekend in September for the past thirty-nine years. This coming Sept. 14-18, forty years of bluegrass will once again fill the Winfield air and double the population of the town for one weekend.

To the Winfield natives and those of us who have attended for most of those years, the Festival is just known as "Bluegrass," as in, "Are you going to Bluegrass this year?" Or people will ask, "Will I see you at Winfield this year?" We know what they mean and, yes, I will be there.

Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Spending more money on solving a problem, than the original problem costs? Sounds like politics to me.

Recently, Florida became the first state to require mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients. Any resident who fails a drug test will no longer receive benefits. Wait, that's not true? When recipients fail two drug screens they will still be able to designate someone else in their family to receive their benefits.

So why would Florida pass a bill such as this?

Public opinion is one reason. Critical thinking skills seem to have been traded in for copy and paste statuses on Facebook.

Reason number two, the governor co-founded the drug testing chain the state is using.

Pat Roberts Deep-sixes Six

Steve Six
SALINA, Kan. - The question seemed straight-forward enough. After all, two evenings earlier on national television Pastor Rick Warren had asked the same of the presidential candidates, Senators Obama and McCain. But there was Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan), on the federal government payroll since he graduated from college over fifty years ago, nearly thirty years in elected federal office - stumped, speechless.

The occasion was a meeting of the Salina Rotary Club in August of 2008. The question was this one, "Name one instance when you went against your party, and maybe your own political best interests, and did something you felt was necessary for the good of the country?"

SHAWNEE, Kan. - The modern day peanut gallery has found its' home in the comments section of online media. Common guidance is to avoid the unsolicited commentary, and the cruelty that can come with it.

While I understand such advice, I don't generally follow it.

Sometimes, I wish I would.

BASEHOR, Kan. - The Wall Street Journal editorial in the August 6-7 edition, titled Repatriation Games, extolls the economic miracles that would abound if U.S. multi-national corporations were allowed to "repatriate" their foreign-earned capital to the United States at atrociously low tax rates. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, in spite of his everyman-champion image, is a shill for Wall Street and has proposed a one-year, 5.25% repatriation rate. Economist Allen Sinai, in the same editorial, is reported to have estimated that there is more than $1 trillion abroad waiting to be repatriated -- if only the rates go down.

Unfortunately, the editorial leaves out one inconvenient fact when it comes to the argument that repatriation of foreign capital will produce jobs: lack of customer demand.

Voter ID: Let's Pick Our Battles

BASEHOR, Kan. - The August 3 Wall Street Journal opinion piece Bill Clinton Does 'Jim Crow', seems to present a straw issue with little substance in the larger scheme of things.

I realize that some on the Left see any attempt by charlatans like Kris Kobach to impose voter identification as un-American, but is this really an issue that Progressives want to go to the mat on?

If I have to produce ID to set up a bank account, write a check at a retail store, get on an airplane, rent a car, stay in a hotel, or even obtain a library card, I can't for the life of me see why I shouldn't have to produce identification if I'm going to exercise my most fundamental right as a citizen. I understand the argument that, as a fundamental right of American citizenship, the right to vote should not be infringed.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Jane Carter, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE), issued the following statement in response to Governor Brownback's proposals for voluntary retirement incentives:

I am quite disappointed by the Administration's announcement of the Voluntary Retirement Incentive proposal. To be very clear, KOSE is not opposed to voluntary retirement plans in general. However, it is essential that all factors be considered before enacting a Voluntary Retirement Incentive. The State has not, at this point, considered those factors nor met its legal obligations to KOSE. [Read more here]

Placed on the Waters of the Neosho

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. - One afternoon in late November 1845, a small group of Kanza Indian men rode into a camp of freighters at the Big John Creek crossing of the Santa Fe Road two miles east of Council Grove. The Indians invited James Josiah Webb and companions to visit their village two or three miles downstream. Here a "swap" would take place, Webb trading a blanket coveted by one of the Kanza for a pail full of honey.

Sure enough, the next morning Webb and his companions enjoyed a sweet breakfast in a Kanza lodge: "They insisted we should take some honey; and a wooden bowl, or deep trencher, filled with honey, and a part of a buffalo horn so shaped that it could be used as a spoon, was set before us. And we enjoyed a feast, passing the spoon back and forth, Indian fashion." Afterwards, one of the Kanza warmed a honey-filled rawhide bag in front of the fire, occasionally kneading it, then filled a pail full to be carried on horseback to the Big John Creek campsite, where that evening Webb once again indulged in copious amounts of honey, in consequence suffering a stupendous bellyache.

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

July 2011 is the previous archive and September 2011 is the next one.

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