Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: February 2013

Tension & Strife

The world is in turmoil. The Middle East is a hot bed ready to explode in open flame to envelope the world. The world economy is perceived to be in shambles. The United States is struggling to find middle ground between the far left and far right in both politics and religion.
It seems to me the Jews (we Christians are descendants of them) have always maintained they had special privilege, as God's chosen, to destroy anyone whom they wanted to. They had very brief periods in history when they had the power to do that. Unfortunately for them, God didn't always intervene and protect them from their enemies. I wonder if they always really understood what God's Prophets were telling them?

We, Christians, supposedly take our directions from the New Testament account of Jesus' ministry and the very early church.

Sen. Steve Abrams versus the Common Core

Steve Abrams, an Arkansas City veterinarian, is now a Kansas State senator and head of the Senate Education Committee. He was the guest at the Governmental Relations Workshop sponsored by KASB and the Council of Superintendents. According to a superintendent who was in attendance at the workshop, Abrams opposes implementation of the Common Core standards, which were developed by Kansas educators. When asked about why he does not want Kansas to adopt the Common Core, he said he and the governor do not like them. He admitted that he had not seen the Common Core standards and had no idea what they included. The only reason he gave for not liking the Common Core is "that Obama and that Duncan [Arnie Duncan, secretary of education]" endorsed them."

Basehor, Kans.--Please read the article in Time Magazine about the exorbitant cost of hospital care in this country--most of it provided by "non-profit" hospitals, including some "community" hospitals in Kansas that are owned by, or "affiliated" with, hospital chains. (Cost containment is something that Obamacare has done almost nothing about).

It will take you some time to read: it runs 27 full-text pages in the print edition, and even more with side bars and photos. (If you'd like to read it off-line, select the "Print" link under the image of the magazine, and then click/scroll down through the entire text. Copy it to your clipboard and then insert into your word processor.)

My guess is that this is the longest article that Time has ever published. One interesting fact:

"According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pharmaceutical and health-care-product industries, combined with organizations representing doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, health services and HMOs, have spent $5.36 billion since 1998 on lobbying in Washington. That dwarfs the $1.53 billion spent by the defense and aerospace industries and the $1.3 billion spent by oil and gas interests over the same period. That's right: the health-care-industrial complex spends more than three times what the military-industrial complex spends in Washington."

For all of those who scream about the "free market," there is one unassailable fact regarding health care in the U.S.: there is no free market in health care. When there is no competition and no transparency, there is no free market. As citizens, we've let Democrats and Republicans to remain cozy with the health care industry while they hold the economy hostage.

But, there are some faint signs that people are finally waking up and asking the tough questions that the hospitals hate being asked.

Rally To Feature Broad Cross-Section of Kansans Addressing Extremist Legislation From Corporate Lobbyists

Topeka, KS--Nurses, teachers, clergy, elected leaders and others will rally at the State Capitol this Saturday February 23 at 2:00 p.m. to push back against an increasingly extreme legislative agenda. Kansans from a variety of backgrounds, political parties and professional backgrounds will be in attendance and among the featured speakers.

 "The Governor and legislative leaders need to know that what they're doing will not happen in some back room where nobody notices," explained AFT Kansas President Lisa Ochs. "The people of Kansas will know exactly who is destroying the quality of life in our state, along with its future."

I just copied the following from the ICH Newsletter that I get online.


You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees & the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labours & aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

"Desiderata" was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). -

IT IS STILL A BEAUTIFUL WORLD ! The sun is always shining behind the clouds. Morning will dawn, even after the darkest night. No one can take God out of your heart and no one can force you to accept God in your heart.

For the Republicans, you have the next federal election to look forward to. For the Kansas Democrats, you have the next state election to look forward to. I don't recall whether we've ever had a Democratic majority in the KS legislature, but we have had Democrat governors and majority coalitions of Democrats and moderate Republicans.

In spite of the dire predictions following elections, we have always survived over the last 200+ years and I predict we will survive a few more elections, whether they go my way or not.

Filibuster Or Just Plain Obstinance

Where did our State's Senators come down on the filibuster preventing the approval of the President's nominee for Secretary of Defense? Did they cave in to the partisan efforts to oppose anything the President supports? Do they support rule by minority?

Where will our State Representatives stand? Are they beholden to the TeaParty/ultra conservative right?

Isn't it about time the Republicans start acting like grownups and move forward for the good of the country? Is it good for the country for partisan politics to operate only to guarantee failure of the opposition?

Is it 'ramming down the throat' of the opposition when 51% vote to pass legislation? Or, is it 'strangulation' when the minority refuses to allow legislation to move forward?

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. The conflict currently raging in Logan County over the compulsory poisoning of prairie dogs and the reintroduction of the Black-footed Ferret has a rich context.

In the 1940s, Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac and one of the founders of the modern environmental movement, argued for a "land ethic" that would expand our definition of "community" to include soil, water, plants, and animals. Such an ethic, he wrote, would "change the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it." He knew as he wrote that he was up against an opposing view, as evidenced by the soil erosion, water pollution, and plant-and-animal extinctions that were increasing, not decreasing, in his day. Nevertheless, he did everything he could to replace human self-centeredness with a morality sensitive to the rights of non-human creatures to exist and (in some areas) to exist in their natural state.

Leopold's embattled view was nothing new. The newspapers from the early days of Kansas are full of protests on behalf of wildlife. In 1872, the Hutchinson News


A cartoon in today's Salina Journal (Feb 11) inspired this observation.

Some people think our National elections are a rat race. I don't think so. If the last election had been, the Republicans would have won. Now our State election might fall a little closer to that kind of race. It's a matter of perception and priorities isn't it? I'm, obviously, a Democrat.

No I don't think Republicans are rats!

But, the analogy seems to work for me. Rats under the farmers granary are known for their indiscriminate destruction of the Farmer's efforts to save his business and continue next year. In the process they fair sumptuously and hope the farmer will replenish the store room for next years gluttonous waste. Rats don't care who plants or harvests. They just want access to the spoils and the leaky floor gives them that.

Wickedness Squats in Topeka

Kansas Representative Steve Brunk just introduced HB 2598, a whopping 70 page bill with the intent of decimating a women's access to abortions and reproductive healthcare in Kansas.

This bill rivals the Inquisition's Handbook,Malleus Maleficrum, with its tortuous suggestions of pin pricking every conceivable measure to extinguish a woman's right to her own body and good health.

As Barbara Walker notes in The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, "the Inquisition was not organized to administer justice; it was organized to enrich the church and silence its critics." Nothing much has changed throughout the centuries. This bill is not about administering justice, but punishing women and enriching the politicians who feed off the abortion debate for their own political ambitions, while the church uses abortion to contaminate government policy with their misogynist doctrines.

Forked tongues stab public workers

Any hard-working, self-respecting wage earner knows payroll deduction has long been a fact of life. It's used for tax withholding, charitable giving like the United Way, health insurance premiums, cafeteria plans for tax deductions--and professional association (union) dues.

Now worker's unions are in the cross-hairs of Kansas' Koch/Brownback Buddies, and KKBB's first legislative target is payroll deduction. Teachers, firemen, police, etc. can join and pay union dues without it--but in the real, practical world, collecting dues to protect worker rights is made far more difficult.

The KKBB's know that, passing House Bill 2303 by a slim (68-56) margin. The bill bars using payroll-deducted public-employee money for any political purpose. Thus public workers will be outgunned in any kind of election--school bond, school board, legislative or gubernatorial. Corporations and big-money enterprises, however, remain free to influence the public unimpeded. We public employees--teachers, firemen, policemen--are told by the state what we can and can't do with our payroll-deducted money.

AND it will be 'enacted' immediately upon the Gov's signature, just in time to squash workers' voices in Slick Sam's upcoming assaults on responsible government.

So, how could any legislator defend a yes vote on 2023? They can't. But the language they use to 'defend the indefensible' as George Orwell put it is, well, Orwellian.

Orwell's books, 1984 and Politics and the English Language, and later, Edward S. Herman, political economist and media analyst, called it Doublespeak. Herman's book, Beyond Hypocrisy, defines Doublespeak as "the ability to lie, knowingly or unconsciously, and get away with it; and to choose and shape facts selectively, blocking out those that don't fit [one's] agenda or program."

Here's the boiler-plate language ("clearing up some rhetoric") from 69th District's new J.R. Claeys: HB2303 "removes the State of Kansas from the responsibility of bookkeeping for public sector union political action committees (PACS)." Really?

In other words, our school districts, who have for years simply deducted dues from employees' pay like all other myriad deductions, simply won't do it--or if they do, the law will not allow workers to use any of said funds to lobby to protect their employment rights.

My school district is not, with all due respect, "the State of Kansas." It is my partner in education. And to see this as some burden on the state is just plain malarkey.

Also, says Claeys, the bill "allows union members to . . . contribute to a public sector PAC from the privacy of their home without outside pressure."

What universe does Claeys inhabit? It is hard enough, in a "right to work" state, to get teachers to join their local association. Kansas' law already ensures that public workers are not legally required to join the group negotiating their hours, working conditions, or compensation. The built-in temptation to "free-ride" ( which I myself once briefly indulged), makes it easy to forget that, without your association's solidarity, you do what The Man (or Woman) says.

In addition, some teachers' reluctance to join is heightened by already low salaries. (A goal of this administration?)

Claeys' implication of unbearable union pressure and a White Knight KS Legislature riding in to save the poor, downtrodden worker goes beyond implausible to ludicrous.

Another bill rumored ready for flash-passing, HB2085, would essentially dismantle professional negotiations, gutting the right of school and public employees to have a say in their wages, hours, and working conditions.

These bills do not spring fresh from legislators' foreheads. They're not from J.R., but from ALEC.

ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, backed by huge companies like State Farm, sends hundreds of pre-packaged, anti-worker, anti-citizen bills to all states. Some are passed. Some are not. Cumulatively, however, they bypass Congress and become de facto national legislation. For further information, google "The United States of ALEC."

Other area "representatives" also attacked workers through HB2023 and should hear from you. They are John Barker of Abilene, Susan Concannon of Beloit, Steven Johnson of Assaria, Don Schroeder of Hesston, Sharon Schwartz of Washington, and Troy Waymaster of Luray. There are others throughout the state.

Local Reps. Diercks, Christmann, Moxley and Schultz deserve kudos for voting against the bill.

The Senate's companion bill SB31 has not yet been voted on. Call regional Senators Elaine Bowers of Concordia, Jay Emler of McPherson, Tom Arpke of Salina, Tom Hawk of Manhattan, Mitch Holmes of St. John, Ralph Ostmeyer of Grinnell--or any other Senators--to tell them this travesty of a bill should be rejected. Thanks!

When KS Was Born

Diane, that was a little more than 60 yrs ago. I can't remember how I experienced it. LOL

But, I do remember it through the history books and autobiographies of those who were there and involved.

Our State Motto is very appropriate.

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This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in February 2013. These are listed from newest to oldest.

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