TOPEKA, Kan. - I've written a couple of stories about Freddy and the gang that calls itself Westboro Baptist Church, and in the last one I stated my intention to refrain from ever writing about them again and thereby giving them what they most crave: attention. I'm sorry, I can't help it. Just one more time. I was in Topeka a few weeks ago for my father's funeral, and as I was walking out to the car to get something, some one pointed out to me a crowd of demonstrators with placards about a block away and indicated that it was them, Topeka's own little tribe of weirdos.
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TOPEKA, Kan. - I was in Topeka when the shootings took place in Tucson. I was deeply involved in personal matters with two parents who entered the emergency room within two days and I was not very tuned in to the news. But the shooting was something so ghastly that almost no one could fail to hear about it.
HOBOKEN, N.J. - A highly respected friend and colleague told me I should be careful venting rage in such a powerful forum as Kansas Free Press. He thought that the article I wrote in response to Obama's compromise over tax cuts for millionaires was so fueled with rage that it sounded as if I was advocating against supporting Democrats. Right off the bat let me disabuse anyone who may have shared his impression. Yes, I was enraged, and I think I was expressing the justifiable anger of the heartland. But no, I don't want to abandon the country to the right wing. I just want the Democrats to fight as fiercely as they do.
HOBOKEN, N.J. - Now I'm really mad. Today Obama and the Republicans reached an agreement to give a nice big fat bonus to millionaires and billionaires for the next two years, costing our budget multibillions of dollars. Then in a gesture to the less fortunate the stately congresspeople (who all have socialist healthcare for life) reluctantly consented to an extension of unemployment benefits -- ah! But only for 13 months -- because those people are going to have to work for what they get! For them it's austerity! What do they think? That they can just slack off and do nothing and still expect the privileges of having a roof over their heads, food and access to medical care? Those aren't for everyone! You have to work and show us you are worthy of those privileges. If you're not the one in six who applies for every job who actually gets it, well, better luck next time. Meanwhile, don't worry about the little tax law that allows us to siphon off most of the wealth of the country through layers and layers of accounting tricks.
HOBOKEN, N.J. - I could make a long list of things I am disappointed about with Obama. His vigor in challenging the most venal aspects of the Bush administration, the wars, the torture, the Big Brother spying, the coddling of corporations and banks, has fallen way short of what his soaring rhetoric during the campaign might have led us to expect. I could go on and on, but that is not the purpose of this article. In a few days election day will come and we are facing an onslaught of sadly misled and manipulated Tea Partiers, funded, driven and brainwashed by billionaires intent on rolling back democracy and establishing unchallengeable corporate control over our country. These poor Tea Partiers are people with legitimate complaints and problems whose populist fervor has been channeled by cynical and sophisticated propagandists into supporting the same corporate powers who have marginalized them in the past and are intent on pushing them even further down if they consolidate control over the House of Representatives.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Star reports that of 1,855 Kansas Public Schools, 255 failed to meet their AYP (adequate yearly progress) targets set by the No Child Left Behind act, George W. Bush's signature education program. Failure to meet the targets means that schools will lose their funding under the provisions of the law. If a school does not perform under these standards, they are punished by having their money cut off. Presumably the schools will do a better job educating the kids with less money.
TOPEKA, Kan. - Yesterday the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Kansas is cutting funds for journalism education because "some don't feel journalism will be a viable profession in the future." Welcome to the Third World. What has happened is that the government channeled so much money into wars and the mushrooming military industrial complex that there is little left to run our country at home. And things are only getting worse. Brace yourself.
SANTIAGO, Chile - I don't suppose I'm unusual in this regard, but I often feel that traveling is the only time I feel really alive. Back home embedded in the rules and routines of life, captured in a web of entanglements, obligations, bills to pay, forms to complete, deadlines to meet, habits to maintain, bores to honor -- it can suck the life right out of you. But when I'm traveling I feel like Jesse James on the run. I know they're going to catch up with me eventually, but at the moment I am two steps ahead of them. I am free.
TOPEKA, Kan. - "When I was a little chap I had a passion for maps," said Marlowe as he began his tale in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. "I would look for hours at South America, Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration."
When I read that line it reverberated in my head as if it were my own voice coming back to me. The setting of my childhood dreams was Topeka, Kansas, where I lived a few blocks from Shunganunga Creek. It was a place of great wonder for me where I spent countless hours growing up. During summer vacations I spent many entire days at the creek. During summer it became jungle-like, steaming hot and teaming with wildlife.
HOBOKEN, N.J. - Google users from across the United States today were surprised to see that the premier search engine and world changer has changed its name to Topeka. This is a sight that should not be missed. Who knows how long it will last? But it must be seen to be believed. Log on right now to www.google.com and check it out. To find out more about the background of this stranger-than-sci fi event, see http://bit.ly/937rCW.
Unhappily for loyal Topekans, the name change did not extend globally. In Mexico the page says, "Dia de tontos" or day of stupid people.
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