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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."

BASEHOR, Kan. - I'm a somewhat reluctant subscriber to the Wall Street Journal.

I say "reluctant" because the tenor of the paper has changed now that it's under control of Rupert Murdoch, et al. Reading the Opinion and Editorial pages, I fume, snort, yell, laugh, shake my head, and occasionally nod my assent. Thank goodness for my unused frequent flyer miles that I regularly trade for a WSJ subscription, otherwise I couldn't bring myself to purchase it.

On July 20 David Wessell, economics reporter for the Journal and one of the rare voices of reason among the Journal's regular staff, took a fact-based, relatively dispassionate look at where we are with federal government spending. He has a book titled Red Ink that will be out tomorrow.

Without further comment, I'd encourage folks to read his short piece and then consider his book.

jack-and-the-wall-street-giants.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - A friend of mine sent the following comment regarding the death of Osama bin Laden: "Can we now say 'mission accomplished?' He was killed in a walled compound near a Pakistan military base, and not in Afghanistan. It's time to end the expense, bring the kids home, and begin a peace time economy again."

I told my friend that I agree wholeheartedly that we should withdraw from Afghanistan.

However, I had to qualify my enthusiasm with an observation. Just as Eisenhower warned us against allowing the 'military industrial complex' to take over our government, the sad truth is - that's exactly what has taken place. The military industrial complex has, indeed, taken over our democratic processes on behalf of the oil / energy conglomerates, Wall Street and the banks. Sadly, I think it would be delusional to assume that those who really determine our foreign policies would ever give an inch in regard to their steady march toward world hegemony.

We must remember that candidate Obama's promise to "leave Iraq" turned out to be a decision that was "above the President's pay-grade."

The Funeral and the Crazies

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.

military-army-war.jpgWASHINGTON - When Gen and President Dwight D Eisenhower warned America in his presidential farewell address against the military industrial complex, he was far seeing. And we, the taxpayers of the United States weren't listening and didn't pay attention. We have let the growth of the Defense, the Pentagon Budget lose all perspective in importance. Projects are being put forward, billions spent and wasted on military programs that have no hope of success, and, indeed, are not even wanted. Here are a few.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told The Huffington Post. "NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization - a relic of the Cold War) is a great drain on our treasury and serves no strategic purpose." Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who has argued that the defense budget can be cut without harming military readiness, said Frank's idea has merit. "Barney Frank has a good point," said Korb. "We ought to rethink the whole idea of NATO." Korb continues, "The FY 2010 defense budget was $533.8 billion -- excluding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you add those in, it comes out to a whopping $663.8 billion, which is "more than the combined defense expenditures of the next 17 countries." He estimates that approximately 20 percent of the baseline defense budget is NATO-related, resulting in about $100 billion in spending each year.

Peace Versus Profit

I like to point out that it is easy for war mongers to be war mongers as long as other people are doing the sacrificing. At least people arguing for peace aren't expecting other people to suffer if they get their way." -- John Page, Gulf War Veteran

WICHITA, Kan. - One of the earliest accounts of an anti-war demonstration is found in Aristophanes' Lysistrata. Written in 411 BC, the play is a humorous look at the quest of one woman, Lysistrata, to end the Peloponnesian War. The protest is two-pronged. What most people remember of the play is that Lysistrata rallies the women of Greece to withhold sex from their husbands and lovers until they end the war. More crucial to the success of the protest is that the old women of Athens take over the Acropolis, the site where the state treasury is stored. This of course means the military will be unable to fund the war they're fighting.

The Peloponnesian War lasted from 431 BC to 404 BC, a long war by anyone's standards. The word "Lysistrata" means "Army-disbander" in Attic Greek and, while the women's war protest was only a fiction, the play gives voice to resistance to never-ending war. More importantly, it shows the inseparable relationship of economics to war. Wealth from tribute and land holdings, as well as access to the sea and to silver mines kept hostilities alive for almost thirty years between Athens and Sparta.

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - Here at the Christmas season it is so wonderful to spend time with family and friends -- to share the beauty. But the season also makes us miss even more the family members who are not here. In particular, I miss my mother, who died in 2008.

I thought of my mom last week when the movie my husband and I were watching was interrupted by breaking news: "The Senate has repealed Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell." I felt a surge of exhilaration: We as a society were rejecting one more form of discrimination!

Still, I could not help but wonder at the euphoria I felt. It was as if I had been suffering from an ache I wasn't aware of until it went away. I guess I was discovering that the adage about "an injury to one is an injury to all" can be literally true. I had been painfully aware of the injustice of allowing gays to risk their lives for our country, to offer us all their gifts and talents, only to be dismissed from service if their identities were revealed. Now it was like the old joke: "Why are you hitting yourself on the head?" "Because it feels so good when it stops." By ending anti-gay discrimination in the military, our country had stopped hitting itself on the head. And it felt so good!

But my joy came also from my mother.

War Is a Racket

"Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. ...

"Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote."

WICHITA, Kan. - Yesterday was Veterans Day and of course we all hear the same story, how we should honor veterans. We should do a better job than we currently do now of making sure they receive care they need. We also hear a lot about how we owe our freedoms to veterans.

That isn't completely true. More often than not our military heroes are squandered in use of a corporate master. This isn't a new concept. Two time Medal of Honor winner Smedley Butler knew this over 70 years ago and can articulate it better than I ...

HAYS, Kan. - Article Four of The Kansas Bill of Rights, Constitution of the State of Kansas: § 4. Bear arms; armies. The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.

Constitutional Amendment Question Number One, Ellis County General Election Sample Ballot: A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.

Excerpt from the Explanatory Statement provided by the Sample Ballot: "...A vote against this amendment would provide for no constitutional right of a person to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose..."

US Constitution, Amendment 2 - Right to Bear Arms: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed..

The above references are necessary to the commentary I feel compelled to provide.

DODGE CITY, Kan. - We do, indeed, have some outstanding candidates on the political scene in Kansas. I cast my advance ballot yesterday for Democrats Tom Holland, Lisa Johnston, Alan Jilka, Dennis McKinney, Chris Biggs, Steve Six, and Republicans Sandy Praeger and Sally Cauble. I admire their courage, leadership, and willingness to serve. Nevertheless, I have been reluctant to write this year.

There are many stories that need to be written in this time frame just prior to an "off-year" election. I have tried to help with the election by manning the local Democratic headquarters, making phone calls, putting out yard signs, donating dollars, making speeches for candidates, and finally casting my ballot. I suspect many who read this have done likewise.

So, why do I hesitate to write about this year's election activities. Why, indeed?

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