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Brownback Wants You--

To procreate--if you're a woman.

An old story, from the April 12, 1999, edition of the Topeka Capital Journal has the headline: "Brownback: Abortion Partially to Blame for Social Security Woes." At the time a U.S. Senator, Sam Brownback, came to Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, to speak to college students, high school students, senior citizens, and anyone else who had the noon hour free to listen to him.

I was still teaching at Butler. I was free between classes to go to the all-purpose room to hear what he had to say. I am the "older woman" who called Brownback out when he said women who got abortions were responsible for the shortfall in Social Security. I don't remember what he said in response to my remarks. I had a one o'clock class to get to, so I didn't hear any follow-up.

Brownback Wants You--

The New Kansas Education Czars

Recently, Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Board of Education member sent an opinion column, "New Teacher Policy Benefits Students." to state newspapers justifying their move to allow Kansas public schools to hire uncertified teachers for the six schools that applied for innovative school district status. The uncertified teachers would come from the ranks of "industry professionals."

I started teaching in 1965 in a Michigan country school. By then, I had enough credits to make me a college sophomore. I did not have enough credits to be certified as a teacher. Even so, the school, run by a few farm parents and uncertified by the state, hired me. I lasted one year. That's all it took for me to realize that that those students deserved a teacher who knew what she was doing.

According to an article in the Wichita Eagle Sunday, June 21, 2015, Sen. Michael O'Donnell and other Republicans who voted to raise consumption taxes may be vulnerable in the 2016 election for Kansas Legislature.

The article by Bryan Lowry, Eagle Topeka Bureau, quotes O'Donnell as saying he "has a target on his back" after voting "last week in favor of HB 2109, which increases the state's sales and cigarette taxes, among other things." O'Donnell says he voted for the bill because it included a sales tax cut on food a year later.

Even so, O'Donnell isn't the only Republican feeling the heat for voting in favor of what several news sources are calling the largest tax increase in the history of Kansas.

Every morning, I go out to the porch and pick up the Wichita Eagle, a paper I have subscribed to ever since I moved to the Wichita area in 1974. My husband joins me in reading the morning newspaper. He reads the sports section while I start with the first section and read through to the comics and puzzles.

Ever since Sam Brownback became governor of Kansas, the headlines on the front page of the Eagle have been a cause for consternation. After he won a second term, with a bunch of right-wing legislators following behind him, reading the front page news has become even more of a horror story. Edgar Allen Poe couldn't have written it any better.

Legal Weed in Kansas?

Last year, a group from Wichita worked to garner enough signatures on a petition to get the question of legalizing marijuana in Wichita on the November 2014 mid-term election ballot. When Esau Freeman, one of the group's leaders, took the petition to Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, she ruled that not enough of the signatures were valid. This, even though the ballots were counted in secret, so no one really knows for sure that this was the case. However, this is an issue for another blog.

This time Freeman and others made sure they got only the signatures of registered voters who were Wichita residents, a requirement for the issue to go on the ballot.

Kansas Women: The Breeder Class

Katha Pollitt, longtime Nation Magazine "Subject to Debate" columnist, has a new book out, How Pro-Choicers Can Take Back the Moral High Ground. I've read an excerpt of the book in The Nation, and I would like to buy the book, read it, and share it with my pro-choice friends.

In Kansas, the only thing that changed in the 2014 midterm elections was that the state legislature became even more infested with anti-choice legislators. Rep. Pat Sloop's loss was one of the disasters we suffered. Rep. Sloop, now in her 70s, has been a longtime fighter for women's abortion rights and stood up for women against anti-choice zealots in the Kansas House. Other pro-choice advocates, Rep. John Carmichael and Rep. Ed Trimmer did keep their seats. Carmichael won handily over his anti-choice opponent, but Trimmer pulled out only a 17-point victory over his fundamentalist church backed opponent.

With people like Mary Pilcher Cook, she of the pregnant-woman-behind-the-sheet sonogram in a House committee room fame, still in the Kansas Legislature, the going will be tough for those who believe women have the right to control their bodies and their lives. Hiding a pregnant woman behind a sheet is a good metaphor, in fact, for what happens to many women when they get pregnant.

Reading a political party platform is probably considered by most people to be at the ho-hum level of watching paint dry. However, it is in the platform that people can discover what a political party values and what it stands for. .

I don't know how Republicans develop their platform. I do know, since I'm a Democrat and active in the Kansas Democratic Party, that the Kansas Democrats develop their platform with the input from a platform committee. This committee is made up of people holding elected office, Democratic Party officers, caucus chairs, county chairs, and district chairs. Democrats throughout the state have a say by letting members of the platform committee know about issues that need to be addressed. However, most people are involved in their day-to-day lives and seldom think about communicating to committee members before the committee meets the day before Demofest, one of two KDP state meetings held during the year.

Red State Blues--Again

Yes, here we are again. Election time around the country. Not for president, this time, but for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as for state offices everywhere. For those of us who are Democrats in Kansas, that leaves many opportunities for muting the TV when campaign ads come on.

In Kansas, the governor's race has garnered interest from around the country. The Kansas economy falls farther and farther into the toilet, thanks for Gov. Sam Brownback's belief in economist Arthur Laffer's economic theory that if you cut taxes to the bone for the wealthy, somehow the state, or the country, will magically become more prosperous. What gets left out of Laffer's theory is that public services also get cut to the bone. When one looks at what has happened to public education, social services, police and fire protection, and the maintenance of such things as city parks and streets, one can see the havoc the adoption of Laffer's economic policy has wreaked on our state.

In response, Paul Davis, a Democrat and the candidate I'm supporting, has mounted what seems to be a successful campaign against Brownback. According to some polls, he's outpaced the governor by eight points, with the primary just around the corner. He's also managed to bring in more money in contributions than Brownback has. Of course, we still haven't heard from the Koch machine in this race, and it's inevitable that it will be engaged as the general election grows closer.

Post Feminism

My oldest granddaughter graduated from the University of Kansas last weekend with honors in English and German. She wrote her honors thesis on feminist attitudes, then and now. I was able to read it when I went to Lawrence for the graduation celebration, and I found myself surprised at some of the attitudes she unearthed.

She based the thesis on interviews of women representing various generations. I was probably the oldest woman she interviewed, with her scholarship hall friends being the youngest. When I was in my early 20s, I read Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique with my third baby on my lap. As I read, I had that "click" of recognition that so many feminists in the late '60s and early '70s talked about. I realized the feminist movement gave a name to what I'd been looking for most of my life.

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This is the main archives page for Diane Wahto. To learn more about this author, you can also read a short biography of Diane Wahto here.

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