Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Policy: February 2011

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.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) is a union for executive branch state employees, and the largest union of state employees in Kansas. KOSE Executive Director Jane Carter recently issued the following prepared statement:

"The recent vote in the House should have never happened; HB 2130, the 'Paycheck Deception Bill' is nothing more than discrimination against union members and their political institutions. This bill restricts the use of funds collected, in part, through the state government's payroll system as a result of paycheck deductions affirmatively authorized by a state employee for a non-partisan political action committee. This bill does nothing for average union members but tell them how and what they can use their paychecks for...

social-security-poster-1939-2.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Today is the first day of the week that President Obama and the Republican House are to go at it, as my father used to say, hammer and tongs on the budget and the deficit.

Obama is proposing a budget of 3.7 trillion dollars, a budget that he claims will reduce the deficit 1.1 trillion in the next decade. Of course, Speaker of the House Boehner immediately stated that that 1.1 trillion-deficit reduction was not enough. What both of them, in fact most of our elected representatives and senators, ignore completely are the entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare. They don't want to talk about those benefits paid for over a lifetime of work by 94.7% of the American population.

That is a simple problem to solve, depending on whether the conservatives are willing to solve it despite having to listen to the screaming and gnashing of teeth (pardon the cliché) from the bank and Wall Street executives drawing obscenely monstrous bonuses and the Kochs, et al at the very top of the income tower.

Think First? Duh.

COLBY, Kan. - Connie O'Brien is not in my district and with the intelligence of her remarkable ability to identify real American citizens, I'm glad she isn't.

Here's the example: (condensed transcript)

Rep. Sean Gatewood (D-Topeka): "Can you expand on how you could tell that they were illegal?"

Rep. Connie O'Brien (R-Tonganoxie): "Well she wasn't black, she wasn't Asian, and she had the olive complexion."

TOPEKA, Kan. - On Wednesday, February 10 members of the Kansas Voter Coalition presented testimony in opposition to HB 2067 in the Kansas House Elections Committee. HB 2067 is called the "SAFE" act by its author, Secretary Kris Kobach. The "Safe and Fair Elections" act is a voter suppression bill... pure and simple.

While many of its proponents see it as a way to keep the integrity of our elections there are many provisions contained within the bill that erect hurdles to legitimate voters. It will virtually eliminate door to door and mobile registration and "get out the vote" efforts. The opposing organizations ranged from the AARP, a disabilities rights organization, Kansas Equality Coalition, the Kansas NAACP, Kansas/Mid-MO ACLU, the American Federation of Teachers and the Kansas League of Women Voters.

A Modest Proposal

WICHITA, Kan. - Ah, those tight state budgets. What to do? The days of big federal dollars pouring into state coffers are gone as the national debt continues to climb. How can we alter this economic conundrum and come up with something more appetizing than cutting education and the arts? I would like to make a modest proposal to that end.

In his new book Pendulum Swing, political scientist Larry J. Sabato, has presented shocking information about campaign spending. The 2010 midterm elections were the most expensive EVER! The figure is staggering; $4 billion spent with about $564 million coming from outside sources and $2 million from congressional campaign committees.

In the race to buy the most expensive candidates, why not make political campaign contributions part of the effort to pay off the national debt? Don't think of this as a tax but as a charitable contribution to the country.

PhotobucketMANHATTAN, Kan. - The Landon Lecture series at K-State opened the 2011 season with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday January 27th. Sotomayor spoke in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union, becoming the third Supreme Court justice to address the K-State student body, following Earl Warren and Sandra Day O'Connor.

Breaking with tradition and creating the atmosphere of an armchair chat, Sotomayor took questions in a forum format from District Justices Deanell Tacha and John Lungstrum who were joined by Danny Unruh, K-State student body president.

Sotomayor had braved the inclement weather on the east coast to come to K-State, saying when she left Washington that morning her home was without power.

Judge Tacha opened the discussion asking Sotomayor to describe her day so that the audience could get a better idea of what it is like to serve on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor responded that she reads a lot, spending her weekends chewing through circuit briefs and court decisions, in order to be able to engage with the other justices in the decision making process. "Getting four people to agree is difficult," she said.

GasLand: Fracking Our Future

PhotobucketMANHATTAN, Kan. - The Manhattan Monthly Film Series continues in February with the showing of the Josh Fox's GasLand, winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film will be shown at 6:30 pm on Wednesday February 9th at the Manhattan Public Library. The film is free of charge and open to the public.

GasLand looks into the Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking" or hydraulic fracturing that has contributed to the largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history. But serious questions exist to its safety and environmental impact.

Director Josh Fox becomes personally involved with the issue when he is asked to lease his land for drilling. Unable to get his questions answered, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and environmental contamination. A recently drilled Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. The film is part verité travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown. It informs the American people about another legacy given to us by the Bush administration.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Policy: February 2011 section.

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