Guarding the Kansas Henhouse


Life on my grandfather's farm in some ways epitomized the rural farm life I still envision as the ideal Kansas life. Neighbors helped each other, there was plenty of fresh air and beautiful country. Everywhere there was (with small exceptions) an atmosphere of trust.

If there were problems, they could usually be handled 'in-neighborhood.' Until they couldn't. For example, one neighbor raised a large number of chickens. Although he knew wild critters ran the creeks nearby, he was confident his hen house and collie dog were sufficient for protection. Until they weren't.

One day the farmer awoke, dressed, and walked out to feed his chickens. Only half were left. Both farmer and chickens were traumatized. The slaughter was widespread and ugly. Few spots were left unbloodied. Feathers still drifted, as if still frantically attempting escape, in the early morning breeze. The hens never knew what hit them.

Years later, we Kansans awoke to a much larger, more devastating, raid. The Kansas Teagislature, at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning, raided the public treasury of up to 10 million dollars annually, handing that $10-million gift to corporations (they deduct 70%) to siphon off from public schools to private schools, for "scholarships." This allows them to teach their choice of curriculum to their choice of students, at your expense.

Not only that, they simultaneously slaughtered teacher's due process rights, courtesy of our own non-Senator, Republican Tom Arpke. That due process chicken house had been safe for 60 years--yet both blows to public education were done in one dastardly late-night raid.

With no opportunity for debate, the amendments to the Education Funding bill can only be characterized as a surprise attack.

The process echoed Sam Brownback's earlier perversion of the legislative process. The one which shot a cannonball through the general welfare. The "experiment" making Kansas perhaps the leading example of irresponsible, regressive, unfair tax policy. The tax giveaway handing tank car loads of state money over to--not 1,900, not 19,100--but 191,000--that's One-Hundred-Ninety-One-THOUSAND relatively well-off partnerships and limited liability corporations.

Making it worse, they didn't ASK for it. Many or most would just as soon have that tax money kept to help others in the state. But the Brownback/ Americans for Prosperity/ American Legislative Exchange Council juggernaut of lies-in-advertising seems to have blinded enough Kansans to this reality: The chickens--no, in this case a huge nest of foxes--have come home to roost in their hen house.

According to the Kansas City Star, "Urged on by conservative special interests such as Americans for Prosperity, Republican leaders pressed hard to eliminate due process rights for teachers." The AFP agenda often mirrors that of ALEC, and both are heavily funded by the right-wing big-bucks boys. The Nation previously reported that "untold sums of cash" have been poured into ALEC by the Koch brothers.

But Kansans are waking up. Hopefully in time to clean up the bloodletting and restore the hen house population.

We Kansans remember Sam Brownback's calling in a large group of lobbyists to demand they donate to his list of replacement candidates. Brownback's chosen frozen replaced legislators who actively asked questions, who did not knuckle under to the Brownback/AFP/ALEC agenda, who served the people, not Sam's special-interest underwriters. Thus did hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars in false advertising subvert the will of the people. The latest example: A television ad showing the Guv cavorting with kindergartners while his cohorts undercut public education. Kansans should not buy it.

We Kansans remember the raids on education and social services, the huge budget hole in the ship of state, sinking it under waves of debt, the general lack of compassion, concern--or sanity--in the making of public policy.

We Kansans now recognize similar local 'anti-tax' candidates who have no clue about sound public policy, who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

We Kansans take little comfort in the discovery that ALEC has now sired a little (big) brother, the "American City County Exchange (ACCE) that will target policymakers from "villages, towns, cities and counties." Thus could some already clueless local lawmakers become even more susceptible to deception.

But we Kansans still have the vote. As Richard Crowson, Wichita media commentator, recently noted, "If you're just blaming cowardly, anti-education legislators, you are wrong. Our Legislature was not beamed to earth from another planet. They were elected." And they can be un-elected.

There's more than one way to guard a henhouse.

In the interest of expediency and cost savings, I think we should turn our state, county, and local governing bodies over to the Kochs. Doing so would allow us to cancel expensive elections and eliminate voter fraud as an issue.

Drought: We Can Learn from Job

Out here on McDowell Creek there was a beautiful snowfall a few days ago, rain the next day, a cloudburst last night, and now fog today. While runoff is gathering in puddles, our hope is growing: Maybe it won't be a drought year after all.

"A drought has a long tail," my neighbor told me back in 2012, the summer without rainfall. "We're not out of it yet," he told me when the rains came that fall.

He was so right. Even though we had some good rains in 2013 and above average snows this February, we have also had, just about every day for at least three years now--wind.

In preparation for leasing our pastures to a cow-calf operation, we checked our ponds. We were shocked! Our black lab Deci walked right across pools that not too long ago we couldn't reach the bottom of, not even with a canoe paddle stretched straight down. Our prospective renters were people we wanted to work with, but we had to tell them no. Our ponds were just too low.

In fact, all of our water sources--seeps, springs, McDowell Creek itself--are looking puny. The likely culprit--that constant wind. It must be causing evaporation that's greater than whatever amount of precipitation we receive. Things just keep getting dryer and dryer.

So we might be in for it again this year. We dread the thought of lack of water--what it does to soils, plants, animals, and people.

But if it is another dry year we have to recognize that it's part of the package of living on the tall grass prairie.

You don't get the one without the other.

A recent article in the Wichita Eagle cited a U.S. Census Bureau study that said, "More people have been leaving Kansas than moving here over the last four years, new Census figures show." From 20010 to 2013, Kansas had a net population loss of almost 10,200 people.

Some of that loss can be blamed on the recession that hurt the economy all over the country. However, as the economy has rebounded, one only has to look at the policies put into place by Gov. Sam Brownback and the merry band of extremist Republicans in the Kansas legislature. Those folks have put everything from the Kansas public education system to preserving Kansas wildlife in peril. Along the way, they have worked to pass laws that would take away local control on everything to gun restrictions to votes on gambling casinos.

Sanctimonius Censorship

"Bare Brained Idiocy", or is it Bare Breasted Phobia?

"A teacher who takes a field trip to the state capitol and suddenly notes the bare breasted woman in the artwork in the rotunda can be accused of recklessly exposing students to nudity.
Think it's far-fetched? The lead proponent of this legislation is the American Family Association in Kansas which has been leading an effort to force the removal of a sculpture of a bare-breasted woman from a public arboretum in Johnson County, going so far as to successfully petition to impanel a grand jury on the issue."

Are those folks worried about my losing control of my inhibitions and assaulting someone or are they worried that they won't be able to control their own libido when exposed to such tempting visual reality?

It's all Eve's fault. She took a bite of the apple and seduced Adam into tasting it. That account of man's fall from grace has plagued man's relationship with his fellow human beings and God, since time began.

Beautiful is beautiful, whether it is a naked rose petal or a naked human body. God created both and endowed man with the ability to see that beauty. I envy the artist's ability to portray that beauty on canvas or stone.

Bare-Brained Idiocy

In the Kansas legislative session that has included such crazy antics as the House passing a bill to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the name of "religious freedom," a sonogram on the House floor, and consideration of bills to end no-fault divorce, to send tax money to private schools, including those run by religious institutions, and a bill spelling out how far an adult can go in applying corporal punishment on a child's bottom, it should be no surprise that SB 401 has reared its crazy head.

SB 401, which has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, "removes from public, private, and parochial schools the defense of literary or artistic merit or significance when someone accuses the school of exposing students to 'offensive' materials." This information, from the Kansas NEA's Under the Dome newsletter, lets teachers know what they would be in for if they used instructional materials such as Michelangelo's David, materials that exposed children to nudity or language that some consider offensive.

Extremism isn't the answer

Where is the middle?

I'm glad we don't find as much attack on Christianity, here on KFP, as we do on so many other liberal and progressive sights. The extreme religious right are not in the majority in our society, or even in the majority of our Christian groups.

We find bigots and extremists in both the Christian groups and the anti-Christian groups.

I will not be coerced by either group. My faith is not threatened by the zealots on either side.

no comprehendi

No Sam won't ever understand women!

Does he understand himself? Is he in favor of education? If so, how does he justify cutting funds? How is the system going to double kindergarten hours with diminished funds?

Does he understand our system of government? Independent courts are hard to come by, if one branch has authority to appoint them. Does he only think the courts should okay his perception of fair funding?

Does he understand responsibility? Women are responsible to deliver babies, but society isn't responsible for the culture and environment? We'll protect that fetus until birth and then it is the woman's responsibility thereafter. Cut off all those freebies and she'll learn.

He will invite the corporations to take over agriculture and move the profits out of state. Those corporations will deal directly with manufacturers and suppliers and bring in labor on a seasonal need. Does he know or understand what makes a community a community?

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