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MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - I have been puzzled by the new Republican Party -- not the party of my father or grandfather, not the party of excellent local public servants such as Tom Moxley, Ben Bennett, Roger Reitz, Jeff Longbine, Rebecca Bossemeyer, or Florence Whitebread -- but the extreme right-wing party of Paul Ryan, Sam Brownback, and many members of the Tea Party. Their views seem illogical. After unregulated financial dealings brought down our economy in 2008, why make a fetish of the free market? Why talk as if everything government does is bad, despite obvious counter-examples (clean water, enforceable contracts) ? And why paste labels on Americans of modest means, when they clearly don't deserve it? Why call them the "47%" who "will never take responsibility or care for their lives," as Romney did at a private fundraiser, or the "30%" who are "Takers, not Makers," as Ryan did before a conservative group?

In search of a better understanding, I decided to learn more about the philosophy behind this trend. For years Paul Ryan has cited Ayn Rand as the thinker that inspired him to get into politics; he asks his staff to read her works. So off to the library I went and came home with a copy of The Fountainhead. I read all 700 pages of it. And lo and behold, there it was, in this novel written in the 1930s and published in 1943, a philosophical justification for the apparently counter-intuitive positions of today's right wing.

Churches Have Failed to Instill Values

COLBY, Kan. - Is it me, my computer, or the system? Hoop, you are right! All politics is local, or at least the politicians start out from local. The Koch brothers were little boys and grew up in a local community. They formed their values and chose their priorities with family and community involvement. We hear people talk about how politicians turn crooked when they get to Washington. Most likely they were that way before getting to Washington, they just didn't have as big a pie to grab. We get the rant from the Religious Right that government has taken God out of schools, legislation, etc. No! Government hasn't done that. The churches have failed to instill loyalty and values.

Patriot Majority USA has run two bus tours, one on the West Coast, and one in the eastern  half of the country. focused on the Koch Brothers and their Greed Agenda, which they push with hundreds of millions of dollars and through organizations they have established and funded such as Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council, and Freedomworks.
Ken Bernstein,  a recently retired National Board Certified Social known for his blogging as teacherken at Daily Kos reported on the trip. Here is his report from Kansas re-posted with permission from the Education Votes website:

When I say "we" it is because on Friday both buses, the one I was on in the East and the one that had been traveling the West, caught up with one another in Topeka, the state capitol, and then finished the tour at a union hall in Kansas City. Oh yes, and Bill Burke and some others first went to Wichita, to the headquarters of Koch Industries, founded by Fred C. Koch, father of the Koch Brothers Charles and David, who are the perpetrators of the Greed Agenda.

Tip O'Neill: 'All politics is local'

BOGUE, Kan. - Tip O'Neill's slogan may not apply to the extent it once did, given the deliberate infusion of national wedge issues into local politics, but it still applies.

One of the few races in western Kansas pits Allen Schmidt against Ralph Ostmeyer, both incumbents. Schmidt, redistricted into Ostmeyer's territory, will have to compete for votes. Ostmeyer is my good friend of many years, dating back to coaching days. He is a man of integrity. Schmidt I barely know, but he seems intelligent and principled.

On hot-button social issues, they are peas in the pod. Difference: Ralph, a little too accepting of Governor Brownback's fruitcake fiscal proposals which, if implemented, will result in elevated property and sales taxes. Schmidt, likelier to provide healthy resistance to that part of Brownback agenda. That's a big plus.

I wish we had learned more about John Miller of Norton. No, Miller isn't on the ballot but could be a write in. He lost big time in the partisan primary for Senate District 40 That's likely because he was scared to challenge the noisy radical right, who masquerade under the once-respectable label "conservative." Hence, Miller was vilified as a dratted moderate ... like Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Dole and Arlen Specter.

Not So Smart ALECs

SALINA, Kan. - A woman teacher in a different faith tradition has a challenging definition of a warrior, one well aligned with Jesus' teachings. Warriors are those who vow to take care of one another, even if that means "swimming out beyond our comfort zone." In this way, we can go "beyond enslavement to success and failure, praise and blame."

Present Kansas politics seem to allow precious little space for such noble warriorism. Rather, it seems devoted to a "winner take all" model.

Take former Senator Sam's approach to governing our state. Recently, he "invited" 18 (count 'em) lobbyist organizations to a Senate Contribution Soiree. Fourteen Senate candidates, all proven malleable to the Gov's agenda -- including all the extremists unseating moderate Republican Senators -- were its beneficiaries. The implication of his invitation, at $1000 per candidate, or a total cost of $14,000 for each lobbying organization, was to pony up or give up.

Kansas Media: Fair & Balanced?

COLBY, Kan. - The Salina Journal publishes articles written by a retired engineer, Lawrence Wetter. He wrote a long article explaining how the Republicans had given us so many great things, over the history of the Republican party. Of course he didn't mention that it was Abe Lincoln's Republican administration that riled the Southern Democrats to rise up in rebellion over federal mandates and regulations. He didn't explain that it was Teddy Roosevelt's Republican administration that pushed the anti trust laws - enforced by federal mandate - that broke up Standard Oil and a few other monopolies. He didn't attempt to explain how, or why, the 'great depression' besieged our nation after twelve uninterrupted years of rule by Republican administrations.

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