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Political Temper Tantrums

WICHITA, Kan. - Some 4,600 Kansans have signed a petition to secede from the United States. That's right. These loyal Americans seem to think that destroying this nation is the best option to take after Romney's defeat. Stirring up the ghosts of 1861 make a mockery of all the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to protect our nation and keep the promise of this republic alive.

One of the mechanisms of our democracy is the ability to change the government politically every four years. Threatening to rebel or secede when a favorite candidate loses is just childish. The 18th Century political philosopher John Locke, and our Founders may have claimed the right to rebel against unjust tyrants, but this was due to the fact that they lived in a rigid system where monarchs could not be changed until their death and even then the power remained in the hands of one ruling family.

This point seems to be lost on the millions of American citizens who forget that they do not live in such a system. The reality of all the talk and petitions about seceding from the United States is more an emotional temper tantrum than a rationale response to the election.

Republicans have always been poor losers. When President Clinton defeated President Bush, it became a cottage industry to snipe and yap at the heels of Clinton.

Social Responsibility

COLBY, Kan. - Diane, Margy, and Vickie have given us some good food for thought. I have just recently watched on PBS a couple of good shows depicting the perils and hardships of agriculture and the communities in the high plains during the 'dust bowl' years. We are all aware of the economic and emotional tragedies of recent events.

We have just seen the end of a campaign season filled with inexhaustible accounts of the merits and demerits of both major parties and their candidates. Sad to say, the demerits dominated the strategy of both parties.

WICHITA, Kan. - A few months ago, I was invited with other donors to tour the facility that now houses Episcopal Social Services, or Venture House, in Wichita. After the tour, we had lunch with Venture House staff members, who updated us on the programs available for people who came to the facility. I was curious to see what changes had taken place from the time I volunteered there in the summer of 1985. I was immensely impressed with the way the Episcopal Social Services programs have grown.

My husband and I moved to Wichita in April 1985. Because I had time during the day and was looking for something to do, I decided to volunteer at Venture House, which was the agency operated through Episcopal Social Services set up to help those who were down on their luck.

We Need a Healthier Society

COLBY, Kan. - All political persuasions need a broader base of individuals who will let their voices be heard. When only the extremist radicals do all the talking, no one hears the full truth on any issues. When well over half of all campaign rhetoric is aimed at the negative side of the opposition, no one really gets a clear picture of what the candidate, themselves, actually aspires to accomplish.

We live in a very negative society. No one trusts anyone who doesn't look or sound like themselves. We suspect the other fellow is out to take advantage of us. We are afraid they have a hidden agenda and will sneak in later with their hatchet. If the other fellow doesn't agree with our observation of events or policy direction, we seem to just assume they are lying.

Are 'half truths' lies?

We Need a Healthy GOP!

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - We need a strong Republican Party!

Our democracy works best when rival parties are fountains of vigorous new ideas and when--to change metaphors--they serve as watchdogs for each other. No party has a monopoly on the truth or on corruption, either. We need more checks and balances, not fewer!

But if it is to return to health, the national Republican Party needs to shed some toxins. It needs to take a page from the book of its many local elected officials who never got into the national craziness in the first place.

But the national party is another story. Craziness is a polite term for what it got into.

The worst poison in the national Republican Party is its long-standing "Southern Strategy," developed in 1968 after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts guaranteed southern Blacks the right to vote. The strategy involved inviting segregationist Southerners to leave the Democratic Party and join the Republicans. In return, the once-honorable party of Dwight David Eisenhower adopted the old segregationist practice of race-baiting. This strategy meant writing off the Black vote--but as Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips told the New York Times in 1970, the Republicans didn't want the Black vote; they wanted the votes of racist whites. Phillips said, "From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that....The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are."

Well, that's where the votes were.

The Mural of John Brown

john-brown-capitol-mural-anti-slavery.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - The elections are over and all too quickly the 2013 legislative session will convene in Topeka. The Capitol has been in the midst of renovations but one iconic image remains to greet a new year and new visitors to the Capitol: John Steuart Curry's mural of abolitionist John Brown.

America has a long history of religious zealots embracing a political cause but Kansas may be unique in vividly paying homage to a law breaking, fire breathing, gun toting abolitionist. Curry's mural is riveting and yet chilling. Artistically, he has captured the out of control intensity of the era known as "bleeding Kansas", but also how the righteousness of one man has too often shaped and warped American politics.

Curry terrifyingly shows the face of religious fanaticism infecting the soul of John Brown. His eyes are ablaze with God-like wrath, and like a giant Moses parting the red sea, his outstretched arms form a cross symbolizing his own crucifixion for the sins of others. He is the zealot gone mad, convinced he will be the one to lead the nation to destruction, but ultimately rebirth and the promise land. In his left hand, John Brown holds the word of God (the Bible) while in his right, he grips a rifle aptly nicknamed the Beecher Bible.

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Our System Don't Work

COLBY, Kan. - Regarding Hoop's article ... We varnish the lies and embellish the truth. Or, is it the other way around.

The old barn on my homestead has a rough sandpaper like veneer on the ceiling and floor joists. It comes with about a hundred years of deposits left by flies. You know, those 'specks' they leave behind. If you put on a dust mask and use a good scraper, you can finally get down to clean hard wood.

Those moth (we call them millers), that seem to be able to penetrate the tiniest little crevices, leave nice little brown spots everywhere. One time my wife decided the utility room walls were so soiled that it would be easier to just paint than to scrub. After her paint job the walls looked clean and beautiful. But, alas! in just a few days those little orange or brown spots started bleeding through the paint.

While the truth puts on its shoes

BOGUE, Kan. -- In his autobiography, Mark Twain lampooned Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881), Scottish historian and popular essayist: "Carlyle said 'a lie cannot live.' It shows that he did not know how to tell them."

Twain is credited with a similar quip: "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes." Likelier that is from steam engine inventor James Watt, who died 16 years before Twain's birth. However, in this case, who said what when is not critical. The larger point, however, is.

Lies often survive in spite of determined facts available to kill them. It's not that people are stupid. Some are, most aren't. But after 74 years, it seems to me that humans more often accept as true not what they can factually verify, but what appeals to their existing biases. And those biases are often sown and cultivated by very smart propagandists.

Tuesday is election day. More money has gone into political campaigns than ever before in our history. The turnout is expected to be big. All patriotic Americans should vote, shouldn't they? I confess I'm not absolutely sure.

Political disinformation, half-truths, and calculated lies are nothing new. But today the viral persistence of such stuff has never been better funded nor more successfully spread. It is a deluge. Were it rain instead of BS, Noah's ark would be our only hope.

Here are just two stinky examples ...

latino-students.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - In September, Gov. Sam Brownback announced the creation of a ten-member school finance task force, the purpose of which is to "find areas to squeeze more mileage out of state education spending and redirect that money to the classroom."

The task force members are as follows:

  • Ken Willard, Hutchinson, Kansas State Board of Education member since 2003, USD 309 Nickerson School Board member (1997-2002); Retired after 38-year career in insurance industry.
  • Jim Churchman, Overland Park, 27 years of experience in business management including operations, purchasing, supply chain and strategic planning.
  • DeAnn Hill, Baxter Springs, CPA, 32 years of experience in public accounting including closely held, family-owned businesses and outside controllerships.
  • Theresa Dasenbrock, Garden City, CPA, 28 years of experience in public accounting including audits and budget development for public sector entities.
  • Thomas D. Thomas, Emporia, CPA, 44 years of experience in public accounting including audits and budget preparation for counties, cities, unified school districts and colleges.
  • James Dunning, Jr., Wichita, CPA, 31 years of experience in public accounting including planning and tax.
  • Stephen Iliff, Topeka, CPA, 31 years of experience in public accounting including auditing & tax.
  • Dave Jackson, Topeka, business owner, USD 345 Seaman School District school board member (1980-1992) and former state legislator.
  • Tim Witsman, Wichita, 32 years of experience in public & private sector business management; Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning board member for more than 20 years.
  • Steve Anderson, Topeka, CPA and State Budget Director, 34 years of experience in public accounting including auditing and budget planning for public sector entities.

As readers will note, the task force membership includes only one person even remotely connected with education, Ken Willard, a State Board of Education member, who retired from the insurance industry.

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

October 2012 is the previous archive and December 2012 is the next one.

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