Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: State: October 2009


MANHATTAN, Kan. - In Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, Leonard Zeskind provides a thorough and detailed, 542-page, historical account of the mainstreamers and vanguardists that make up the racist movement. Like Zeskind himself, a Kansas City native, many of the key players in this movement hail from our Midwestern state. Several key events surrounding these movements also happened in Kansas.

The 1982 Self-Reliance and Survival Expo is one of those Kansas events. In this setting, Christian Identity groups and Survivalists came together in Kansas City. Gun and knife shows are a tradition in the Midwest and South. This show welcomed survivalists, as well as a group called the Covenant the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA). What could the CSA offer audiences at the Kansas City Self-Reliance and Survival Expo? "For a fee, white (Christian) men could shoot machine guns at pop-up figures, knock down doors, and battle around mock buildings while tires burned to simulate urban riots" (61). Hardly the self-defense tactics typically touted at gun and knife shows.

Likewise, the Midwestern farm crisis provided fertile ground for The Posse Comitatus in the 1980's. This group was considered mainstream enough to have their own time on Kansas airwaves. "Gale joined Wickstrom in this crusade, and taped 'sermons' by the two Posse leaders were regularly broadcast on a Dodge City, Kansas radio station in 1982" (74). With an audience of listeners, no wonder Kansas was the site for a Posse Comitatus training assembly. "That same year Gale and Wickstrom organized a paramilitary training session on a farm near Weskan, Kansas, just across the border from Colorado" (74).

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The only reason a state legislator would do an outlandish YouTube rap video is because he wants attention. And the only reason a sitting Congressman would shout "You Lie!" to a sitting U.S. President is because he wants attention.

And they want attention from people who can help them stay in office: their base. And nothing fires up the base more than the hated opposition lecturing the person. I suspect that Rep. Bill Otto, upon hearing that his redneck rap video was being publicly criticized by prominent Democrats thought to himself: "They took the bait. Fantastic."

And once Rep. Joe Wilson apologized to Rahm Immanuel for his "You Lie!" outburst, he saw nothing but upside from the incident among his base, especially after the opposition wanted to censure him.

Famed Republican consultant Lee Atwater famously said: "Never interfere with your opponent when he is in the process of self-destruction." Perhaps Democrats should consider letting the actions of oafs speak for themselves. Because once the opposition starts "moralizing" , the offender gets lionized by his base, with lots of private "attaboy's" at the barber shop, and lots of fresh campaign cash rolling in.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Political races are the only contests I can think of with no referee to punish bad behavior. In basketball, if an opponent trips you on your way to a game winning layup, you get foul shots. In jury trials, if an opponent introduces inadmissible or misleading evidence to a jury, a judge can grant a mistrial. In baseball, a pitcher throwing spitballs is ejected, often banned for months.

But political elections in Kansas are unique. There are no refs, and there are no Kansas statutes criminalizing lying in political campaigns. In a close race, a candidate's conscience is his only guide, as Jimmeny Cricket would say. And conscience alone doesn't stop candidates like Sam Brownback from a "win first, apologize later" mode of operation.

One lawyer who requested a mistrial based on prejudicial evidence told the judge: "You can't throw a skunk into the jury box and expect the jury not to smell it." And Sam Brownback knows better than most that you can throw a skunk into a ballot box at the last minute with no possibility of punishment or a do-over. It's winner take all.

EMPORIA, Kan. - So we're at District final weekend, this is what to watch for. I'll denote whether the game is on Thursday or Friday. Hope you get to enjoy some.

6A

District 1
Shawnee Mission West at Shawnee Mission East (Thursday Game)
East had more touble against Shawnee Mission North and Shawnee Mission Northwest, but it is at their home field and the district championship is on the line. West has had a potent offense while East has gotten it done defensively, should be fun to watch, plus a rare high class Thursday match-up. I give the edge to East, if their offense starts rolling it could be a long night.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Kansas Democrats feel a little lost right now. In his book What's the Matter with Kansas? author Thomas Frank may be pointing the way to the Promised Land by means of the quintessential Kansas political movement: Populism. Frank suggests that old-fashioned Populism is the classic Kansas way, and that three-time Democratic Presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan had the right idea for Kansans "raising less corn, and more hell."

Although it was Kansas lawyer Mary Elizabeth Lease who uttered the famous phrase about "raising more hell," Thomas Frank sees the Nebraska evangelical William Jennings Bryan as the most attractive populist out there. One of the most memorable sentences in his book regards the McKinley-Bryan election of 1896: "Bryan was a Nebraskan, a leftist, and a fundamentalist Christian, an almost unimaginable combination today." (p. 16)

Thomas Frank gives a thumbs up on the dust jacket of the recent book by Michael Kazin on Bryan: "To understand the politics of our own time we must first understand William Jennings Bryan. Michael Kazin gives us an elegant study of this forgotten but seminal figure, a hero to liberal and evangelicals alike." (A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan, 2006).

So how could someone be a hero to evangelical Christians and Democrat progressives at the same time? As strange as it sounds, it make sense that one committed to the actual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as revealed in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John might tilt toward a progressive politics on some issues.

HAYS, Kan. - The month of October is the "National Domestic Violence Awareness Month." President Obama's proclamation expressed its importance, "A family's home becomes a place of fear, hopelessness, and desperation when a woman is battered by her partner, a child witnesses the abuse of a loved one, or a senior is victimized by family members. ... During this month, we rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence. ... we recognize that domestic violence can be prevented. We must build the capacity of our Nation's victim service providers to reach and serve those in need. We urge community leaders to raise awareness and bring attention to this quiet crisis."

Here in Kansas, Jana's Campaign is dedicating its efforts to doing exactly what the president has called for. Its goal is to move the issues of domestic violence to the top of the political agenda in Topeka in this next legislative session. The organization is advocating for more comprehensive legislation in Kansas that will enhance victims' services, prevention and treatment programs, while providing real accountability for offenders.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Innocence Project, according to their website, "is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice." I first learned about the Innocence Project through some posts that Gerald Britt has posted at EverydayCitizen.com (here, here, and here). Gerald has shared some of the successes of the Innocence Project of Texas, including stories about its freed exonerees and some of its funding woes in these tough financial times.

Then, recently, I was pleased to learn that we have an Innocence Project that serves Kansas, The Midwestern Innocence Project (MIP). The local organization has worked to free six wrongly committed individuals so far, including three from Kansas City.

What to Watch for: 10-23 Edition

EMPORIA, Kan. - It's a Friday night in Kansas, district play is firing at all cylinders and it's an amazing night to be a sports fan. If you're setting their thinking about what it is you should watch tonight, allow your liberal sportsman to let you know where you should go.

Western Kansas

Otis-Bison at Victoria

I could have gone with Hutchison vs. Hays here, but I once told a young man, that 8-man football can be just as fun to watch as the big boys. This game should be fun to watch, Victoria has been amazing so far this year, at 7-0, but the Cougars of Otis-Bison have also played well. I think Victoria will win, but Otis-Bison can really make a statement here and earn a spot in the playoffs outright.

EMPORIA, Kan. - So here are the districts to watch at the 4A and 3A level. We're one week and looking for who's going to end up on top.

CLASS 4A

District 1

Someone requested a look a Holton's district, and I will not disappoint. Holton opened with an expected win over Atchison, giving them a shot at the district title. The only hurdle in the Wildcats way could be the Tigers of Jefferson West. I think it should be a fine game to watch.

Game to Watch: Jefferson West vs. Holton

Jefferson West and Holton share the like opponent of Atchison County. The Wildcats rolled, but so did the Tigers. Look for Holton to take this match-up in a big win proving they deserve their second in the state ranking.

WICHITA, Kan. - Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon evidently thought he was being cute this week when he mocked the intelligence of Kansans. jaynixonAs reported by the Wichita Eagle's Editorial Board Blog, WE Blog:

"...Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has poked fun at the intelligence of Kansans. When asked this week whether an expansion of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Dental School could end up training dentists for Kansas, Nixon dismissed the notion that some graduates might want to practice in Kansas. "But it's so obvious when you cross the state line," Nixon said as the 100 or so in the audience laughed and applauded, the Kansas City Star reported. "People just start talking slower."

TOPEKA, Kan. - This week, in a stunning act of irony, Kansas Republican Party Chairwoman Amanda Adkins attacked Rep. Dennis Moore for his support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Never mind that the act has created over 1 million jobs, and Kansas' jobless rate actually declined again last month.

How is this ironic? (I mean, more than usual...)

Well, Amanda Adkins is a top executive at the Cerner Corporation, a company that has advocated for and stands to gain from the very same Recovery Act. In fact, the company itself states on it's website:

...we recognize that our success is rooted in the value of automating the healthcare process, and we are pleased to see that the Obama Administration and Congress understands an investment in healthcare information technology (HIT) benefits the entire U.S. economy.

Smells a little like hypocrisy, eh?

27,000 Newly Uninsured Kansans

WICHITA, Kan. - According to a report released on Tuesday by Families USA, a national nonprofit focusing on the achievement of high quality health care for all Americans, 27,000 Kansans lost their health insurance in 2009.

According to the Families USA press release...

Approximately 27,000 people in Kansas lost health insurance coverage in 2009 due to a rise in unemployment, according to a report issued today by the health consumer organization Families USA. According to the report, the state's average unemployment rate in 2008 was 4.4 percent, while the average rate this year was 6.6 percent, thereby resulting in losses of health coverage.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - What is the matter with Kansas? Ever since William Allen White posed the question in 1896, many people have tried to answer it. More recently Thomas Frank took on the question in his 2004 book in which he answered the question by saying that the state's political discourse had dramatically shifted from the class animus of traditional leftist thought which once was the hallmark of the state to one in which hot button cultural issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, are used to redirect anger towards electing individuals who work against Kansans' own best interests.

Now two directors from Chicago, Joe Winston and Laura Coen, have taken on the question and tried to answer it through the lens of a camera.

Who Will Be Our Next Governor?

COLBY, Kan. - It appears that Sam Brownback will most likely be a contender in the race to be the Republican candidate for Governor of Kansas.

I recall him declaring in a previous election year that the most important issue we faced as a nation was same sex marriage. He indicated that if we did not successfully make such marriages illegal, our nation would invoke the judgment of God and cease to exist.

This was at a time that the war in Iraq was failing miserably. Maybe our Topeka Baptist preacher was right. It must have been the homosexuals fault! Our national debt was rising at an alarming rate! I'm not sure what gay marriage had to do with that.

BASEHOR, Kan. - I think it's time to take the gloves off and push Progressives (and maybe even the Kansas Democratic Party) to begin talking about the "C" word--Class.

To get a good, quick rundown of the issue, take a look at an old interview with Thomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" In the interview, Frank says that the Democratic party has abandoned one of its principle tenets--and the very one that sets itself so much apart from Republican hucksters. And that's the issue of class.

WICHITA, Kan. - Late yesterday, news broke that former KS-04 Congressman ('76-'94) and Clinton USDA Secretary Dan Glickman was not renewing his lucrative contract with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Glickman, whose contract expires in September 2010, said...

"I'm going to be 65 next month, and it just struck me this is a good time to really move on back into the world of either academia, public service or nonprofits."

We've been pondering a possible run by Glickman for either Kansas Governor, since KDP Chairman Larry Gates bowed out last Friday, or the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sam Brownback, who is leaving the post in 2010 to seek the office of the Kansas Governor.

WICHITA, Kan. - Featured on the DailyKos today is a KS-04 Roundup of all the challengers for the Congressional seat, and the rather amazing fundraising feat performed by Kansas State Representative Raj Goyle in his bid for the KS-04 Congressional seat.

Important to note: Goyle out-raised four-out-of-the-five Republican challengers--combined--for the KS-04 seat, amounting to nearly $3,500 per day in fundraising. The next closest challenger in the fundraising race was Wichita oilman and Wichita Wild arena football league owner, Wink Hartman, who, for the two weeks he was in the KS-04 race in the last quarter, raised just over $1,000 per day.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Today is a day that students all across the Nation will come together for one common goal which is to work for health care reform and call our representatives about it.

Students for Health Care Reform: KSU (Time to Deliver: Students)

Come join us on October, 20th as we organize for health insurance reform! As students we are being called upon to help pass real health care reform THIS YEAR! Gather with other KSU students as we talk with other students asking them to commit to call our members of congress and let them know we want health reform now! NO experience is necessary and training will be provided. We can't wait to see you on October 20th as we work to realize the change we voted for. Yes We Can!

Today at Kansas State University we will be just outside of the Union in Bosco plaza with a table, so stop by between your classes or on your way across campus!

TOPEKA, Kan. - In one of her last acts before heading to Washington, DC, former Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed an Executive Order establishing the Kansas Coalition for Children in Nature (KCCN). The KCCN will work to promote outdoor learning experiences and environmental education for young people, and will identify barriers and suggest solutions to getting kids outside. And you're invited to take part.

PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. - Once again Kansas finds itself in a financial crisis. Soon the State will not have enough money to pay its bills. Adjustments must be made. Two questions come to mind. How did we get in this mess? And what adjustment should we make.

Like most crises this one has been coming for a long time. The state has been getting behind on its obligations for years. It has knowingly under funded its retirement program. Kansas has barely been meeting its obligation to education. Roads and bridges have been in a state of decline. We have told ourselves that our economy would grow and then we could catch up on our bills. Unfortunately our tax revenues have not grown enough to bail us out.

WICHITA, Kan. - Yesterday, I reported on the October quarterly filings by challengers to the open Congressional seat in KS-04, currently held by Todd Tiahrt. We weren't able to report on how two of the challengers, State Senator Jean Schodorf and Jim Anderson, had performed in the October quarterly, because they chose not to e-file, thereby adding 48-72 hours to the Federal Election Commission's reporting.

WICHITA, Kan. - In a week where Raj Goyle hit a campaign fundraising record that no other challenger to KS-04 has ever reached, it appears the Republican challengers to that seat performed rather... well... boringly.

Here's the run down...

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - This just in. Larry Gates, Chair of the Kansas Democratic Party, has formally announced that he does not intend to run for governor in 2010. In his memo to party members, Chairman Gates wrote, in part,

For many months, Jeanne and I have considered undertaking a campaign for governor in 2010. Many of you have encouraged me and offered your support, for which I am humbled and grateful. ... Although the press reports Democrats are not prepared for 2010, the truth is far from it. ... There are tremendously qualified candidates who are considering this race and allowed me the opportunity to fully consider my own candidacy. From among those individuals a great nominee will emerge to challenge the Washington insider whose campaign advisors would have you believe this race is over.

5A and 6A District Previews

EMPORIA, Kan. - It's district football season in Kansas, and here's your guide to what to watch for, where to watch it at... and who I think is going to be around on Thanksgiving weekend. So we'll start going class by class, I'll give you a look at some of the best games for you money. Check back on Monday for a breakdown of Class 4A through Class 1A and Tuesday I'll tackle 8-man.

CLASS 6A

District 1,2,3

The three best teams in the east are all three in different districts which means, alot of lousy football played out east. Shawnee Mission West should roll through district number one and likely be joined by Shawnee Mission Northwest in the state playoffs.
I feel like Olathe East is incredibly overrated in district two, but they should escape to the playoffs. I like Blue Valley Northwest to upset them though and take top prize in district two. In district three Olathe North may be the best team in all of 6A, and should have no trouble making it through districts. Olathe South could find their way out of District play as well.

Game to Watch: Olathe East vs. Blue Valley Northwest

This is a trap game for Olathe East, I think it screams upset for the overrated Hawks

What to Watch For 10-16 Edition

EMPORIA, Kan. - It's a Friday night in Kansas, district play is starting (look back here for a class by class breakdown next week) and it's an amazing night to be a sports fan. If you're setting their thinking about what it is you should watch tonight, allow your liberal sportsman to let you know where you should go.

Western Kansas

Great Bend at Hays

This game is a Lewis Field on the campus of Fort Hays State University and will be in front of a large crowd. This is a rivalry game and Hays will take the field looking to prove their legitimacy. If one of these two teams is going to compete in the toughest district in the state of Kansas (others: Hutch and McPherson) they are going to have to start by making a statement tonight. I think Hays will take the game, but it will not be easy.

Central Kansas

Hutchinson at McPherson

Seriously if you live within 50 miles of McPherson this game is well worth the drive. At the field, which is turf, behind McPherson High School. The Salthawks truly have been the greatest show on turf this season, putting up video game like numbers and rolling to easy victories....BUT last week against Goddard, the Lions were able to hold HHS to only seven points in the first quarter. Coach Randy Dreiling said in an interview this week that they were caught off guard. The Bulldogs must take advantage and blitz early and often and keep the Salthawk offense on their toes and they must put the football in the endzone early and build a lead, otherwise HHS has been the best second half team in the state. I still think Hutch will be playing in Emporia come Thanksgiving weekend, but if there is one team that could upset them before that Championship game, McPherson is that team.

LEROY, Kan. - In what might be described as the lovechild of Dr. Dre and Minnie Pearl, Bill Otto, a Republican state representative from LeRoy, Kansas has made the national spotlight with his latest "rap" on the shortcomings of President Obama and his policies.

There have been plenty of politicians who've tried to embrace this musical genre, but what makes PossumOtter (that's my new nickname for him) so special and has drawn the ire of millions is that he posted his rythmically challenged ode on YouTube while wearing a ballcap that claims "Opossum, the other dark meat."

Deepen the Bench with Democratic Idol

TOPEKA, Kan. - Since 2006, Republicans have been coming out of the closet and professing their new faith in the Kansas Democratic Party. Call them turncoats, re-born democrats or opportunists -- they all made a decision to join the minority party in Kansas. They are welcome in the KDP and part of an unusual transition in power.

Maybe even more unusual is that a nightly prayer ends like this, "Dear God, please convince Mark Parkinson to run for Governor."

Think about why that is unusual. The former Kansas Republican Party Chairman is now in the clean up spot for the Kansas democrats, and arguably, the ideal candidate on the democratic gubernatorial ticket.

Remember the press when Parkinson became Governor? Not a very high percentage of the general public knew who Mark Parkinson was. What is the solution for the Kansas Democratic Party?

A Democrat Neophyte

LARNED, Kan. - Politically, last year was a watershed year for me. I moved from conservative Republican to Obamican to full fledged Democrat, all in the space of four months. Actually, it took much longer. Allow me to explain. I had been a staunch conservative for approximately thirty years! Or at least I thought I was. Oh yeah, I should mention that I am an African-American male who used to love listening to Rush Limbaugh, even though much of what he said insulted my racial sensitivities? Yes, I was one of the few black "ditto heads." Talk about an identity crisis!

Sam Brownback. Really. Scary.

BASEHOR, Kan. - Sam Brownback is a member of a curious religious group with a twisted view of morality. The founder (and father of the group's current leader) says that members should be forgiven for crimes, even for crimes like rape, because members are really above the law since they're among the "chosen."

WICHITA, Kan. - Federal Election Commission disclosures are starting to roll in for the fundraising quarter that ended September 30, and State Representative and Democratic candidate for Congress in KS-04 Raj Goyle secured himself a role among the titans of prolific Kansas Democratic fundraisers.

From the Goyle campaign...

TOPEKA, Kan. - In politics, it is often said that timing is everything. That may be partially true, but it doesn't hurt to have a supremely qualified, hard working and well respected candidate to boot.

Especially when you are talking about someone with broad-based, in-depth legislative experience regarding health care and taxation while understanding how the Federal government has often failed State governments as of late by not shouldering its fair share of the fiscal burden.

It made my day Friday when I heard Senator Laura Kelly had announced her run for the Second District Congressional seat, which couldn't have come at a better time when you look at the challenges facing our state and nation.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - If you notice in this video Sen. Brownback talks about how terrible human trafficking is, and how people's rights are so important we through helping people we will "save our soul".

I guess Sen. Brownback wasn't too worried about his soul when he voted that rape was ok. I'm not sure what his motives were for protecting rapist from their victims but they are surely mislead.

There are certain things that should not be questioned - like a.) the fact the rape is a terrible thing and b.) that people who commit rapes should not be protected by the law from being sued.

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - Research turned up insight into a family background steeped in science on candidate for U.S. Senate Charles D. Schollenberger a Democrat from Kansas.

Shawn Cleveland first reported on this story in this year's spring publication from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences.

Schollenberger when asked was kind enough to allow Kansas Free Press to share this unique story.

Grandson and son, Charles D. Schollenberger, continue a commitment to honor the work of agronomist Charles J. Schollenberger and chemist Charles S. Schollenberger with a gift to create the Charles Schollenberger Arboretum Visitors Center Biological Lab Endowment.


GREAT BEND, Kan. - At the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Republican Governor Robert Bennett called Kansas "the most Republican state in the Union." And he may have been right. But those days are over.

The book How Barack Obama Won, by Chuck Todd and Sheldon Gawiser, shows that Kansas is far from being the reddest of the red states. But the important thing is the direction Kansas is heading. And it's heading toward a more moderate, Democratic path.

Although the authors point out that Kansas is the #2 state in self-identified Republicans at 49% (only Wyoming at 52% is higher), Kansas strangely doesn't even rank in the top fourteen states in self-identified "conservatives."

TREECE, Kan. - Reading about the problems of the residents of Treece, Kansas, takes me back to a day when Carol, my office mate, told me about her bus trip from Wichita through Missouri, a trip that took her through my home town of Baxter Springs, Kansas, a Southeast Kansas town five miles or so from both the Missouri and Oklahoma border.

As Carol talked about the sights she saw on the trip, she asked about some hills she'd seen near Baxter Springs. "Are those the foothills of the Ozarks?"

Signs Of Democratic Life In Kansas

HAYS, Kan. - Throughout my career teaching college students I have encountered a recurring sentiment, often from the most earnest undergraduates. "I wish I could just study, go to class, and write what I really think, without everything being so competitive." The implication is that the way achievement is recognized in higher education is undermining the learning experience for the student.

Journalists often voice a similar regret - or excuse, depending upon your point of view - about how they would much rather be finding and reporting different kinds of stories, but the nature of the business requires them to operate according to standards the journalists themselves claim to resent. Perhaps the commercial realities of circulation, ratings, and advertising revenue are undermining journalistic freedom to pursue stories from a different perspective, shaped by a larger purpose. I don't know because I have never had to make a living within those realities.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The 2nd U.S. Congressional District has been anything but stable. In 2006, Nancy Boyda (D) defeated incumbent Rep. Jim Ryun (R). After just two years in Washington, Lynn Jenkins (R) defeated Boyda in 2008.

The district has been in the news in recent months. Jenkins has seemed to take a number of missteps (here, here and here). The Kansas Democratic Party is even tracking Jenkins at a special site, JenkinsFail.com.

Now, we hear that Jenkins has a challenger in the 2010 election. State Sen. Laura Kelly (D) has announced that she wants to reclaim that congressional seat for the Democratic Party.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Long-time Kansas resident Charles Schollenberger, 57, of Prairie Village has been for months visiting state residents sharing his vision of what he feels a Kansas state senator should be representing. After forming an exploratory committee back in June, today Schollenberger made his official announcement. He will in fact seek the senate seat being evacuated by Sam Brownback.

Schollenberger attended the annual Democratic fall meeting held last weekend in Wichita. After meeting with several key Democratic voters and receiving good feedback, Schollenberger wasted no time in making his announcement.

"We pledge our best efforts to wage an effective campaign to break the strangle-hold that conservative Republicans have had over our two U.S Senate seats for the last 70 years. I invite you to join me in this crusade for change." Schollenberger said.

Schollenberger delivered his speech under rain filled skies this morning across the street from Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - I consider myself fairly well immersed in the political world. I read the news constantly, regularly read blogs for up to date opinions and inside information, and am relatively comfortable when it comes to the subject of political history. Because of all of this it is not often that I am legitimately shocked by an occurrence in modern day politics.

Today, however, I was completely floored.

It would seem that in the fight against sexual violence, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas is on the side of... sexual violence?

Raj Goyle's Photographic Memory

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The first time I met Raj Goyle we were both Democratic hopefuls for the Kansas House of Representatives, attending a strategy meeting in Topeka in 2006. Both of us were running in tough Republican Districts, me in the 112th, him in the 87th against longtime Republican incumbent Bonnie Huy.

"Marty Keenan," I said, extending my hand in friendship. "Raj Goyle," he said. "I met your in-laws recently," he said, as my jaw dropped. "Harry and Carol Castelli." Raj had met my very Republican in-laws going door-to-door, and it was obvious he talked to them at length.

I figured this was just a lucky coincidence. I decided to throw him a bone and tell him about another of his potential constituents I knew: "Do you remember John Holt, the broadcaster? His parents live in your district..."

TOPEKA, Kan. - Kansas Republicans just received a surprising criticism from one of their own.

As picked up last night on Huffington Post, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) told a group of local Kansas journalists yesterday that the GOP needed to get on board and stop fighting health insurance reform. His most stunning observation was reported by the KC Star:

"Sometimes people fight you just to fight you," he said. "They don't want Reagan to get it, they don't want Obama to get it, so we've got to kill it...Health care is one of those things...Now we've got to do something."

Today, Bob Dole will be releasing a statement with former Sens. Tom Daschle, Howard Baker, and George Mitchell along the same lines calling on Congress to enact health insurance reform.

More below the fold...

Why Brownback Is Not a Shoo-in

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The key question about Sam Brownback's Republican candidacy for Governor is not "Why aren't any Democrats running?," but "Why aren't more Democrats running?" During my lifetime, Kansas has had more years of Democratic governors than Republican governors.

The prevalence of Democratic governors in Kansas is an oddity, but easily explainable:
Kansans love divided government. They don't trust one political party to control the Governor's mansion, and both legislative bodies at the same time.

But what about Bill Graves? Yes, this moderate, pro-education Republican served for 8 years with a Republican house and a Republican senate. But Sam Brownback is a different kettle of fish.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, SurveyUSA released the results of their monthly approval rating poll in Kansas showing a staggering six percent drop in approval for Senator Sam Brownback. Brownback, who is running for Governor of Kansas, now finds himself under the so-called "safe" 50% threshold for election.

Brownback's 48% approval is nearing his all time low achieved when he left Kansas to pursue his ambition of becoming President. Worst yet for him, he's bleeding moderates. One in ten abandoned Brownback in September. Many have said this race is already over, but this is clear evidence it is only the beginning.

Kansas Democrats have an incredible opportunity to both retain the Governor's office and provide a clear, stable alternative to Senator Brownback's brand of extremism.

"I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense ..." Thomas Paine, 1776, pamphleteer

HAYS, Kan. - Thomas Paine was a pamphleteer over 230 years ago. Though he's thought of as one of America's earliest, and perhaps its most famous journalist, if he were alive today, it's fairly unlikely that he'd be working as a glam television anchor, covering car chases on the L.A. freeway or following the sagas of divorcing celebrities. Tom Paine probably wouldn't aspire to political punditry either. It's doubtful that he'd end up an argumentative or abrasive talking head on some cable news channel.

No. The man who is the original embodiment of the the 1st Amendment would strive for something much greater.

If Tom Paine were to be among us now, it's likely that he would aspire to be one of us. He'd probably be writing furiously and freely at a free press on the Internet, just like this one. And, just as we hope to, he'd be speaking of issues that he believed to have the most relevance to his fellow citizens.

Citizen-powered websites, like this one, are bringing about a real revival of pamphleteering, and a renewed understanding of freedom of the press.

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. - Prairie Village resident Charles Schollenberger has announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible U.S. Senate run. The committee plans to meet through the end of 2009 to determine if sufficient support exists for a candidacy.

Schollenberger believes "Kansans deserve better representation. Republicans have tied up [those] seats for over 70 years." From a "fair play standpoint, the other party ought to have a chance."

Schollenberger hails from Hudson, Ohio has been a resident of metropolitan Kansas City for 27 years. He grew up in northeast Ohio where he was a strong advocate for passage of the 26th amendment in 1971, which lowered the legal voting age to 18.

TOPEKA, Kan. - For the past two years the Kansas legislature has devoted major energy trying to undo a decision made by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Director, Roderick Bremby, which prevented Sunflower Electric from moving ahead with the construction of two coal-fire power plants slated for construction in the southwest Kansas community of Holcomb.

Following the departure of Gov. Kathleen Sebeilus, Gov. Parkinson in private negotiations with Sunflower Electric Cooperative gave them what they wanted and put the health of Kansans at risk by having the legislature pass legislation that prevents KDHE from doing its job in the future.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Statistically, speaking the 112th District House of Representatives seat is the third safest Republican seat in the entire Kansas House of Representatives. In fact, this western Barton County seat hasn't been filled by a Democrat in over 60 years.

So why did I run 3 times as a Democrat for this seat in 2004, 2006 and 2008? I guess I'm a dreamer at heart, a Don Quixote who wants to believe that good things happen to good people who keep trying. Averaging 47.6% of the vote is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it still makes you wonder why politics isn't more fair.

But at a recent Royals game, I saw two things that started to make things a little more clear. One said: "Play for the name on the front of your jersey, not the name on the back." How true. Each time I ran for state tepresentative, I was a member of a team, the name on the front of my jersey "Democrat" is what really counts. The name on the back of the jersey "Marty Keenan" is secondary. And all three times I finished over twenty five points ahead of the meager 21% Democratic registration in my district. So I represented the team well.

HAYS, Kan. - My first chance to see Kansas Corps in action was in Chapman last April, when more than 50 students from six colleges across the state of Kansas pitched in to provide tornado disaster relief. These students performed a wide-range of services; from removing metal from a creek bed to insulating, framing and dry-walling a home.

The Chapman project was the second pilot project of Kansas Corps. Its first project took place in Melvern in 2008, and saw students from across the state create a hiking and biking trail for that city. Working with the local "Friends of the Trail" committee and their partners, Westar Electric's Green Team, the Kansas Trails Council and the PRIDE organization, these students helped a small community convert a landfill into a health and fitness trail.

Now the real work begins...

TOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, Sarah Tidwell, BSN, MS, RN, the legislative chairperson for the Kansas State Nurses Association met with Rep. Jerry Moran and Rep. Lynn Jenkins while in Washington, DC to share with them what nurses in Kansas want to see contained in health care reform legislation. The following is a summary of what Mrs. Tidwell shared with them while she was in DC and is the body of written correspondence sent to Sen. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. Todd Tiahrt and Rep. Dennis Moore on behalf of Kansas nurses and the patients we care for.

The Kansas State Nurses Association supports a health care system that is patient-centered, comprehensive, accessible, and delivers quality care for all. To achieve this, we must have a workforce policy that fully recognizes the vital role of nurses and other health care providers. Healthcare reform should include the following points...

WASHINGTON - Number crunchers are having a political heyday over health-care reform. Yet, one in particular, is having a field day in shaping the debate. A consulting firm known as the Lewin Group, aka United Health, whose research is making the rounds by opponents of the hotly debated public insurance option.

Respectively stated, by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, Lewin Group is an "independent research firm." Rep. Eric Cantor of Va., House Republican whip, says it is "the nonpartisan Lewin Group."

Also, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the key Finance Committee, refers to Lewin Group as "well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country."

What these prominent members of the Republican Party fail to mention is that the Lewin Group is owned entirely by United Health Group, one of this countries mega health insurance providers.

WICHITA, Kan. - Dick Kelsey spent some more of his own hard earned dollars to showcase some of his top brass supporters for his bid for Congress in KS-04. Last week, Kelsey posted this radio spot featuring Kansas GOP Presidential caucus winner Gov. Mike Huckabee in a strong endorsement.

(Script of Huckabee Spot after the jump.)

Letter to Jerry Moran

Throughout the health care debate, I have stressed that more Americans will gain access ... once costs are controlled and reduced. I continue to advocate for... medical liability reform, an increased emphasis on wellness and disease prevention, providing tax incentives to low-income families to retain or purchase private health insurance, implementation of health information technology, and training more medical professionals and encouraging them to practice in underserved areas. I also support finding responsible ways to address the problems caused by pre-existing conditions and to increase the size of the pool of insured. - U.S. Representative Jerry Moran (R-Kansas)
Dear Representative Moran:

In your special edition of "This Week in Congress" you listed several ways that you believe will fix health care.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Representative Lynn Jenkins had, for lack of a better term, a rough August. She finally came back to Kansas to hold town hall meetings (which she failed to personally appear at months earlier). Lynn Jenkins, based on her robo calls, was expecting a largely supportive crowd for her stance as being a member of the party of "no." What Rep. Jenkins discovered was that she could not get away with failures in judgment back home, such as her "Great White Hope" comment. Even more telling of Lynn Jenkins' failure in representing the Second District was her incident in Ottawa where she laughed at an uninsured mother and her son. With such an atrocious trip back home in August, you would expect Rep. Jenkins to be ready to get back to work and actually serve her constituents in some attempt to save face. Unfortunately, this week Representative Jenkins continued her pattern of failure. This Wednesday Rep. Lynn Jenkins released this Tweet:

Meeting with Kansas Bankers this morning and speaking on the floor this afternoon. 10:37 AM Sep 15th from Facebook

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently received a grant of $576,000 from the Centers for Disease Control to work toward eliminating infections patients receive while being cared for in our hospitals and other facilities such as doctors' offices and nursing homes. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allotted a total of $40 Million to help states combat this growing problem.

This grant is particularly valuable as many infections acquired in this manner are increasingly resistant to conventional antibiotic therapy. Examples of these pathogens are vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficlile (C-diff). These problematic infections can occur while patients have long-term indwelling urinary catheters, and may also affect surgical incisions post-operatively. These super bugs are particularly dangerous when the infection advances and enters the blood stream, potentially causing septic shock and death if prompt, aggressive action isn't taken. Appropriate isolation practices regarding infected patients and scrupulous hand hygiene are key in mitigating risks in health care settings.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Nurses in Kansas and across the nation have joined President Obama in pushing for health insurance reform. One of the longstanding purposes of the Kansas State Nurses Association is working for the "improvement of health standards and the availability of health care services for all people." One of the chief roles a nurse has is to be a staunch patient advocate, so it's no surprise we stand boldly for reform.

Recently, I had a discussion with a colleague who practices in the Kansas City, KS area about the current health insurance reform debate and our first-hand observations as nurses. She underscored the need for urgent reform from not only a practical perspective, but also touched on the political ramifications that command we take action now: "We see the reality of the need for health care insurance reform everyday in the lack of suitable coverage for our patients, decisions on how our long our patients can be hospitalized, in how carefully we must nurse our documentation to qualify for reimbursement, the cost of our own health care policies, and the unsustainable costs to the state and federal government. For those who insist on obstructive negativity in even talking about how to deal with the health care insurance problem, beware, the likelihood of approaching this problem again in the future will be low with such a high political cost being evident," she said.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six announced a new measure to protect seniors from being exploited by fraudulent schemes: The Senior Consumer Advisory Council.

"Our experience shows us that seniors are often targeted by scams and fraud. This new advisory council will help us stay ahead of the curve in our effort to protect elderly Kansans from consumer fraud," Six said.

The Kansas Attorney General's office reports that seniors are being targeted more frequently as of late by mail and email scams as well as identity theft and other types of financial fraud.

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