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Syria-ously, Tim?

Tim Huelskamp finally arrived in Salina Nov. 23rd, after town-hauling it all over West-Central smaller towns. Speculation was, he didn't want to face more critical questions likely in more populous areas.

Turns out, he didn't have to worry. Such stage shows masquerade as 'listening' tours, but primarily feature the representative front and center. They are held during most people's working day, with resulting attendance consisting primarily of retirees, other Republican office-holders, business folks with potential benefit from federal sausage-making, and standard-bearers of the rep's fan club.

Room for dissenting views is largely overshadowed, if the rep is even moderately skilled in the art of question deflection, non-sequitur creation, and appeals to his base's basest emotions. Tim is.

Despite his "Front Lines of Freedom" newsletter claim that, "Saline County residents were especially concerned about the threat of ISIS," I saw little of that, but plenty of contradictions in his barriers to Syrians fleeing for their lives.

His drumbeat that we are the land of freedom seems not to apply to Syrians--unless they are Christian.

From all evidence, he hasn't consulted Jesus' actual stance on such exclusions. Nor did he specify a litmus test. Syrians wearing crosses? Syrians taking loyalty oaths to Jesus?

More strands of his threadbare analysis frayed when confronted by a KWU student, afraid she might not be reunited with her Indian husband. Who will we let in?

This Republican stock-in-trade fear is much harder to maintain when confronted with a real person in a wedding picture--or lying drowned on a beach.

To paraphrase John Oliver, only one wave of refugees did huge damage to the existing population. It began in 1492.

I could only hear, as a descendant of immigrants in Tim's Town Haul, Pogo drowning Tim out. "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Straight Shooters in Topeka

One quiet morning in my sunlit living room, I heard it on the radio, from Reuters. "Kansas Senate to consider Senate Bill 45, to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit." Hair raised on the back of my neck. Black clouds sent the room into darkness. Trying to remain calm, I stuck my head outside. Nope, no armed ruffians patrolling the streets, yet. But knowing how hastily our legislators have acted on bad ideas before, who knows? They could be out there. I silently mused at the irony of calling it Senate Bill 45. Why not SB 30-ought-6? Or SB Ak-47? Or SB M-16?

With a sigh of relief, I found they hadn't passed it yet. But then, sitting right there in my calm, weapons-free, quiet living room, I pondered, and had a revelation. The clouds parted. Light hit me, blinding as Saul's on the Road to Damascus. We Kansans are smart, so we surely elect smart people. My careful analysis finally detected the method in their madness.

Think of the benefits! My friend, for example, hates bureaucracy, so he's dead set against getting a permit. With this law passed, no problem. Weapons are easy enough to find. And here's a solution to his pesky neighbor dog barking till all hours of the night. Simple. One well-aimed shot should do it. If the neighbor objected, well, my friend would still have his peacemaker at his side--but hidden, of course, in case he really needed it.

If the neighbor's a faster draw or better shot, well, that's kind of immaterial, in the larger scheme of things. As we all know, our legislators have their eye on the larger picture, and so should we.

It's a pure matter of the free market measuring out beneficial outcomes, without the clutter and fuss of regulation and the cost of hiring government employees or law enforcement to oversee or enforce such regulation. Humans can sort out situations like this, or as some say, God will do it.

No, this innovative legislation is aimed at the larger economy. Clearly, the legislators envision more expansive horizons. Imagine for a moment the whole vast new industry of shops gearing up for more detailed weaponry training. Quick-draw would be a new skill, but people would pay, say, $500 a pop. Simple marksmanship could bring $250.

Training could occur on new shooting ranges, like the one recently denied a permit in Saline County. With the new law in place, neighbor's objections to such ranges would certainly be beaten back. It could become a weekend sport as popular as boating or baseball.

People compelled to keep their skills updated would guarantee a constant flow of income for entrepreneur gun and ammo salesman, trainers, shooting range operators, and a new category, camouflage experts. Granted, some customers might die, but simple fear would guarantee a continuing flow of new customers.
And we entrepreneurs could cash in. Given Kansas' new no-tax campaign to encourage business growth, I could incorporate, start partnerships with concrete companies, and build underground shelters featuring a year's supply of food and water. My patented new innovation: a rotating, bullet-proof-glass, gun turret. This would allow customers to take out pesky neighbors or hungry, angry area refugees coming for my shelter and supplies. They'd be no match for my perimeter alarm system.

After all, if Kris Kobach can profit, why not us? Kobach already cashed in on his new M-16-like Minute Man assault rifle, kept free from federal regulation by the Kansas 2013 law he helped write. He's no fool, so I'll buy some of Kris's guns to arm my gun turret. That way, we can both share in the profits, tax-free.

I am so proud of this legislature. They simply cannot be outdone in their effort to make us a free people. That is, I thought so till this morning, when I read that Oklahoma is considering a bill to allow guns into the halls of their legislature. Oklahoma's free-wheeling legislation will allow enforcement of the people's will--and right now! Why can't Kansas pass such fine laws?

It's all fun to watch, but it's the weekend and I'm bored. Till next week's legislative session, I guess I'll just go back to my calm, weapons-free, quiet living room, make some tea, listen to music, read, and wait for Armageddon to finally get here. Or write Sam Brownback to tell him how grateful I am that he got rid of those pesky moderates.

Political Insanity

COLBY, Kan. - Diane Wahto wrote, "I don't know how we end this insanity, but end it we must."

We end it with visions and dreams. Most all mechanical inventions are the result of someone's vision or dream. Just someone saying we need this or that doesn't build it. Observing that we need something better (ideology) doesn't produce something better. The psychology of positive thinking has its place, but reality says it take initiative and action to make things happen, or prevent things from happening.

Freedom of Religion?

COLBY, Kan. - Headlines reveal our Kansas Legislature had time and expertise to write a law that takes away religious freedom, but they couldn't get together to redraw our senate and representative districts. We are depending upon 'activist judges' to draw the lines. But we will leave no room for judicial discretion concerning religion! No doctrines or canons not referenced to 'Christian Theology' will be allowed! The next big test will be, whose theology will prevail.


SALINA, Kan. - "Alarming" is a word that is, well, alarming.  Used by editorial writers, politicians, and others, it gets attention, perhaps moves folks to action.  But let's cool off, here.  As Isaiah said, "Be not dismayed."
The latest alarm's about providing contraception insurance for women working in religious institutions.   The Catholic Conference of Bishops and various Republican candidates/officials say it's "an attack on religious liberty."
Roshana Ariel, however, points out in her Salina Journal column that, despite 1968 Catholic doctrine that "it's always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings," two years later, "two-thirds of all Catholic women and three-quarters of those under 30 were using the pill and other methods banned by the church."   Today it's remains clear that for years the alarmed Conference of Catholic Bishops -- and other evangelical leaders -- have had little effect and, like the emperor of the story, no clothes.  
The nakedness of their posturing comes smack up against these women's self-chosen best interests.   They refused to be knocked down and will choose when to be knocked up.

tent-revival-3.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Is the Catholic Church above the law and therefore, exempt from the law? We can't have a stable society if we allow a religious group that has set itself up in the secular world with its hospitals,charities and other organizations, to run for cover under the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion protections.

The 1st Amendment is about the right of individuals to freely believe what they wish to believe without the government arresting an individual for their personal religious, or nonreligious beliefs. It is about the freedom to worship in one's house of prayer without the fear of a government entity barring the doors and preventing such access, or forcing those of no belief to attend services or face a heavy penalty.

The 1st Amendment is not about allowing a giant religious conglomerate to operate in the secular world with the mindset that any citizen who enters a Catholic hospital or works for a Catholic institution, must obey the teachings of that church regardless of their own beliefs.

Religion Under the Dome

TOPEKA, Kan. - It's official. Kansans can breathe a sigh of relief. According to David Epps with the group Transform Topeka, God has made it possible for Sam Brownback to rule over Kansas.

kansas-state-capitol-3.jpgThe Capitol was turned into a Christian Church as the third floor reverberated with songs and prayer. In the small group that assembled, Governor Brownback stood with radical evangelical, anti-abortion messianic prophets (shades of crazy John Brown) to anoint the 2012 legislative session for the glory of their Religious Right God; a God who just happens to support their extreme social agenda.

This Christian pep rally was part of the "Prayer on the Hill" event organized by the Culture Shield Network. CSN is a faith based advocacy group from Wichita founded by Donna Lippoldt . She maintains that they have "people that pray in the Capitol all day, every day during the whole legislative session,"

Lippoldt might be familiar to some Wichitans. She takes credit for keeping casino's out of Sedgwick County but her real claim to fame would have to be the wasted years she spent harassing patients who sought legal abortions in Wichita, Kansas. Nice to know the governor is hanging with the very people who did so much to demonize, threaten and elevate the climate of violence in Kansas against Dr. Tiller.

Religious Bigotry

COLBY, Kan. - I copied the following from an email I received.

Dear Kansas MoveOn member,

You might be surprised to hear that Mike O'Neal, the Republican Speaker of the Kansas State House of Representatives, is praying for President Obama.

Unfortunately, he's praying for the President's death. And he's exploiting the Bible to do so, circulating an email that cites Psalm 109: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow."

Sadly, it's not unusual for Republican politicians to use vile and hate-filled rhetoric when speaking about President Obama. But when they exploit religion to do so, people of faith have a moral responsibility to condemn it...

That's why I created a petition to Speaker O'Neal on, which says...

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a vote that surprised no one (just in case you missed it), our hard working representatives in D.C. reaffirmed for all Americans by a vote of 396 to 9, the unconstitutional national motto: "In God We Trust".

Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), who is also an ordained minister voted against this resolution. Cleaver stated he didn't think Congress should be telling anyone to trust in God. That's something people have to choose for themselves. It's not the business of Congress to force this on the people.

Talk about being religiously incorrect! If only more representatives had the backbone to stand up to the bullies in the House but sadly, they dare not if they want to keep their seats in Congress. This pandering to religious beliefs when the going gets tough, has been a hallmark of politics since Washington took office. Until men and women of BOTH parties have the courage to denounce it, the trivialization of religion and the real threat to freedom of conscience for all Americans will continue.

Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said he voted against the resolution because Congress already reaffirmed the motto back in the 107th Congress . He noted that the resolution has no force of law. Bobby Scott (D-VA) voted no because "when we were sworn in as members of Congress, we took an oath to uphold the Constitution. This resolution is inconsistent with that oath."

Civil Union vs. Marriage: No Conflict

ELLIS, Kan. - The marriage controversy is not new - not simply a controversy, but a battle. The issue is framed in such an "either-or" way that the public is tricked into taking positions that are neither kind nor logical. A commentator on NPR mentioned the other night that President Obama could see a case for a strong civil union arrangement for same-sex partners, but was having trouble coming to terms with the idea of same-sex marriages. So, even the president has fallen for the "straw man" tactic.

The solution has been available all the time the battle here in the United States has been raging. Civil governments should not be in the marriage business at all. Marriage is a religious matter. If a church, or denomination, or other religious body finds that applicants meet that religious body's criteria for marriage, then let that religious body marry the applicants according to its own rites and procedures. Marriage, as such, should have a moral, religious, even sentimental standing, but not a legal standing.

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