Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: February 2012

kansas-state-capitol-1.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - Conservatives in the Kansas legislature are once again up to their old tricks of trying to turn the Capitol into a religious body. A new proposal was announced this week that would provide Kansas state lawmakers with a very special privilege; an "All-faiths" chapel inside the Capitol building. There are many legal concerns as well as practical arguments against the All-faiths chapel. However, the important question to raise is why such a proposal has suddenly appeared?

The whole effort is nothing more than religious mischief concocted by the religious right. If the proposal goes nowhere in this session, the idea still gets out in front of the public to build momentum and support down the road for a chapel. Make no mistake that behind this audacious proposal, the All-faiths chapel is a very calculated and concrete challenge to elevate religion in Kansas government and devalue secularism. This proposal essentially demands that Kansas government accommodate and provide for religion to establish a real presence within the Statehouse and serve as a visible reminder that faith is paramount in governing when in fact, governing should be neutral when it comes to religious promotion. Establishing a chapel in the Capitol building is hardly a neutral act.

Pull Your Bottom Lip Over Your Head

BOGUE, Kan. - Full disclosure. It's been a long time since I was pregnant. In fact, I can't remember when. But I was bedside at my oldest daughter's arrival at Doc Limes' home-town maternity clinic.

I claim only to have been an amazed (and nervous) spectator, but I think I began to appreciate more the courage, strength, and miracle of women. Whatever men say, the best of us haven't a clue beyond that. Bill Cosby once asked Carol Burnett what birth pains were like.

"'Grab your lower lip," she said. "Now pull it over your head." Men know little about pregnancy or childbirth beyond the mechanics instigating the fact (and I've heard they're often klutzes there, too.).

Despite that, a gritty bunch of self-assured males in priestly vestment are confident artificial birth control is a sin. Whether they think it's a mortal or a venial sin is hard to pin down. However, their missionary position is this: sex for fun is agin' God's rules. It grates on God's nerves. Good women should wrestle in the hay strictly to procreate and bear children to fill pews today, coffers tomorrow. Otherwise, as Hamlet would advise, "Get thee to a nunnery."

PACing 'em in Congress

SALINA, Kan. - A college friend of mine, a conservative Republican from Chicago, is a proponent of publicly funded federal elections. When pressed a couple years ago he succinctly explained his reasoning. Under such a system members of Congress would arrive in Washington beholden to the citizens who elected them instead of the special interests that currently elect our congressmen.

This conversation came back to me last November as my civic club listened to our congressman speak over lunch. By coincidence, that same day the congressional Super-committee in Washington announced that they had been unable to reach agreement on a plan to cut the nation's deficit. As we filed out that afternoon another individual remarked to me, "What you heard here today was a demonstration of the problem."

Kansans Ask, 'Where is Kris Kobach?'

TOPEKA, Kan. - On February 15, Kansans presented hundreds of Freedom of Information requests to Secretary of State Kris Kobach asking where has he been since taking office in January 2011.

Kobach has made many trips outside the state to promote his extreme, anti-immigrant agenda. He continues to "moonlight" as an attorney for city and states where his anti-immigrant legislation is undergoing court challenges.


SALINA, Kan. - "Alarming" is a word that is, well, alarming.  Used by editorial writers, politicians, and others, it gets attention, perhaps moves folks to action.  But let's cool off, here.  As Isaiah said, "Be not dismayed."
The latest alarm's about providing contraception insurance for women working in religious institutions.   The Catholic Conference of Bishops and various Republican candidates/officials say it's "an attack on religious liberty."
Roshana Ariel, however, points out in her Salina Journal column that, despite 1968 Catholic doctrine that "it's always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings," two years later, "two-thirds of all Catholic women and three-quarters of those under 30 were using the pill and other methods banned by the church."   Today it's remains clear that for years the alarmed Conference of Catholic Bishops -- and other evangelical leaders -- have had little effect and, like the emperor of the story, no clothes.  
The nakedness of their posturing comes smack up against these women's self-chosen best interests.   They refused to be knocked down and will choose when to be knocked up.

koch-industries.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - The Koch brothers. Wichita's gift to the right-wing 1%. Recently, just before the Feb. 18th Occupy Koch-Town demonstration, Wichita Eagle reporter Roy Wenzl did a long, front-page piece on the Kochs and the death threats they had received. These death threats, according to Charles Koch, came from left-wingers in response to their support of Scott Walker's attack on public employee unions and the Kochs' alleged ties to the Keystone Pipeline. Charles Koch had his say in the article, denying any monetary interest in Keystone, and said his support of Walker and other right-wing politicians was minimal.

Wenzl, a reporter who is known for writing in-depth human interest pieces, quoted Koch and Koch employees at length, He included only a few rebuttal comments from the Occupy Koch-Town demonstration leaders. Even though I'm not involved in either of the groups that organized the demonstration, the Sierra Club and Occupy Wichita, I know many of those people and I know their actions are open to the public. Their opposition to right-wing policies may be noisy, but it does not include violence or take the form of death threats. When I saw the picture in the local section of the Eagle, Tom James, a Wichita poet and musician, was pictured playing his guitar and leading the group in a song. It looked more like the peaceful anti-war marches that I'd participated in the '60s than a threatening demonstration.

Apology Is In Order

women-not-pre-existing.jpgCOLBY, Kan. - The debate over proper function of civil authority in matters of personal choice is being obfuscated intentionally by fundamental conservatives who are successfully making it a religious battle by declaring Christianity as our national religion. We don't need a couple stubborn old men using your platform to argue our differences. Water rights and human reproduction rights have very little in common with each other. They may both have moral and ethical issues that are related, but arguing them in the same debate session will benefit neither one.

It's Not Your Water, Mr. Irrigator

BOGUE, Kan. - Fellow Kansas Free Press contributor and an Ogallala irrigator and I have had an interesting exchange over whether reducing appropriated water "rights" would constitute a "taking" as per the U.S. Constitution 4th Amendment.

As I believe I have reported, then KS Attorney General Carla Stovall was asked about that as one part of a question carried on my behalf by then KS Sen. Stan Clark. In essence, Stovall declined to answer plainly, but said it would depend on the circumstances. In the Cheyenne Bottoms case, both junior and senior water rights were reduced by the DWR without awarding a taking to senior right holders. To summarize, it was a voluntary settlement that avoided the courts. That could--but almost assuredly won't--happen on the scale necessary to end the mining of the Ogallala. What then, can be done?

In March of 2003, John C. Peck, highly respected law professor at KU School of Law, presented a paper in Kyoto, Japan, to the 3rd World Water Forum entitled: Property Rights in Groundwater--Some Lessons from the Kansas Experience.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am enclosing a statement I made nearly 12 years ago to the assembled Kansas Water Authority and Kansas Water Office as chairperson of the Solomon River Basin Advisory Committee. I believe it was enough of an embarrassment at the time to cause then Governor Bill Graves to assemble a task force to try to deal with the issue. That, of course, failed -- as have other efforts. Governor Brownback's approach is standard fare, and will amount to the same "pious rhetoric," as I have learned to call it, with meager results. The current approach is more "local" control, which I have perhaps impolitely termed "the drunks running the liquor store." In effect, a tiny minority has been in control, even though they do live "locally." It is past time for a more honest effort. That will amount to establishing IGUCAs, reducing water appropriation rights over a realistic time frame without compensation for a "taking" since (1) nothing in a water appropriation right guarantees the initial amount of water permitted forever, (2) the statutes clearly say an appropriation right does not constitute ownership of water, and (3) the broad philosophy of Kansas water law is one of a public trust. It is long past time the "takings" argument has been challenged, even if that requires going to the courts.

If you agree, I encourage you to send the link to this article to your state senators and representatives -- and to any others you think would be interested. (The original full statement follows as presented in the year 2000)

tent-revival-3.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Is the Catholic Church above the law and therefore, exempt from the law? We can't have a stable society if we allow a religious group that has set itself up in the secular world with its hospitals,charities and other organizations, to run for cover under the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion protections.

The 1st Amendment is about the right of individuals to freely believe what they wish to believe without the government arresting an individual for their personal religious, or nonreligious beliefs. It is about the freedom to worship in one's house of prayer without the fear of a government entity barring the doors and preventing such access, or forcing those of no belief to attend services or face a heavy penalty.

The 1st Amendment is not about allowing a giant religious conglomerate to operate in the secular world with the mindset that any citizen who enters a Catholic hospital or works for a Catholic institution, must obey the teachings of that church regardless of their own beliefs.

Poor? Who?

COLBY, Kan. - Mitt Romney says he's not concerned about the poor? Who would have thought that? What has he ever done to make you think he did care? He said he's also not worried about the wealthy. That's not surprising, either. This modern Republican's programs have always been more favorable to the perpetuation of wealth and its power.

Both major political parties receive a major portion of their campaign finances from the wealthy. But, statistical analysis show the Democrats have a higher percentage of contributions from grassroots supporters. Both parties have some very wealthy members. Both parties have some scoundrels and both parties have some very good leaders. Bottom line - you should vote for the individual. But, if you're not sure about individuals, my opinion is to take a chance on the Democrat. I'm a conservative liberal Democrat. Now you figure out what that means.

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This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in February 2012. These are listed from newest to oldest.

January 2012 is the previous archive and March 2012 is the next one.

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