Category Archives: Politics

Some Sanity From the Kansas House

Educating our children is one of the most significant things we do as parents and as a society. It’s something key that differentiates us as a species from the other species on this planet – no other species takes as much time to nurture and pass their knowledge to their children. We spend 18 years or more on just our children – and we commit to paying taxes to educate all children, not just our own, even after our children are long out on their own.

That’s why I applaud this vote by the Kansas house, which is a rarity these days. We can’t just have Johnson county as the shining beacon on the hill, we have to raise the level of education throughout Kansas to match our best school districts. In this interconnected age we can’t afford to be an island of knowledge wealth in a sea of misery and ignorance because that will bring disaster longer term for all of Kansas. All Kansans should be proud of the monies we spend on education, it’s to create a better future for everyone. History shows that islands of knowledge in seas of ignorance tend to wash away – so all children in Kansas need their education to be the best it can or we will create a grim future for everyone, including our descendants.

House rejects compromise on school finance bill | Wichita Eagle

  • By Bryan Lowry
  • Eagle Topeka bureau

The House sent a strong message to the Senate early Sunday by voting down a school finance bill that was packed with conservative policy changes.

The House had passed a bill with overwhelming bipartisan support on Friday, but a conference committee with Senate leaders Saturday yielded a bill that Democrats and moderate Republicans refused to support.

And enough conservatives also decided that the bill, which would have stripped teachers of due process rights and granted property tax breaks for parents with children in home or private school, went too far.

via House rejects compromise on school finance bill | Wichita Eagle.

What’s In A Name?: Okla. Judge Who Denied Transgender Name Changes On Biblical Grounds Gets Overruled

From Simon Brown at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State:

An Oklahoma judge who used the Bible as the basis for denying name-change requests by women who had gender-reassignment surgery has been overruled by a higher court.

On two separate occasions, one in 2011 and another in 2012, Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves refused to permit two people who were born male to change their names to ones that are traditionally female because doing so “is fraudulent.”

In a baffling ruling in which Graves claimed that it is impossible for anyone to change their gender, he used the Book of Genesis to support his conclusion.

“To grant name change in this case would be to assist that which is fraudulent,” Graves wrote in his 2012 decision denying James Dean Ingram’s request to become Angela Renee Ingram. “It is notable that Genesis 1:27-28 states: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he created them.’ The DNA code shows God meant for them to stay male and female.”   

Graves made the same argument in 2011, when he refused to permit Steven Charles Harvey to become Christie Ann Harvey.

Fortunately a higher court has mopped up Graves’ messes — twice. Last week, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals unanimously voted to grant Ingram’s request. The court had previously undone Graves’ misdeed on behalf of Harvey as well.

Graves, who was once a Republican member of the state legislature, said the appeals court’s action is “very disappointing.”

via What’s In A Name?: Okla. Judge Who Denied Transgender Name Changes On Biblical Grounds Gets Overruled | Americans United.

Are Good News Clubs Good For Our Children?

Good News Clubs are infiltrating our public schools an turning them into tax-payer funded indoctrination centers.

Presentations by Rebecca Hale, Katherine Stewart, Richard Dawkins, Eric Cernyer and Sean Faircloth.

Presented at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado. February 27, 2013

via Are Good News Clubs Good For Our Children? – YouTube.

Justice Department Fights Release of Secret Court Opinion Finding Unconstitutional Surveillance

Putting aside all the allegations of a massive all seeing prism eye in the sky program, this is where the real breakdown of our constitution occurs. It’s a couple of Senate Democrats on the intel committee and EFF vs. the FISA court and Justice Department in a battle to just discover the breach. Somewhere out there is a ruling that in at least one instance the government violated federal surveillance laws.

From David Corn at Mother Jones:

In the midst of revelations that the government has conducted extensive top-secret surveillance operations to collect domestic phone records and internet communications, the Justice Department was due to file a court motion Friday in its effort to keep secret an 86-page court opinion that determined that the government had violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.

This important case–all the more relevant in the wake of this week’s disclosures–was triggered after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate intelligence committee, started crying foul in 2011 about US government snooping. As a member of the intelligence committee, he had learned about domestic surveillance activity affecting American citizens that he believed was improper. He and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), another intelligence committee member, raised only vague warnings about this data collection, because they could not reveal the details of the classified program that concerned them. But in July 2012, Wyden was able to get the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify two statements that he wanted to issue publicly. They were:

* On at least one occasion the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held that some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

* I believe that the government’s implementation of Section 702 of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] has sometimes circumvented the spirit of the law, and on at least one occasion the FISA Court has reached this same conclusion.

Personally I have no doubts that our constitution has been folded, mutilated, and even spindled at a few points during the GWOT. However it’s not due to some massive conspiracy or government program and I doubt that it’s endemic.

Instead when looked back at in retrospect the violations will most likely turn out to be very human and sordid failings and short-cutting of programs and process coupled with ignorance by a small hand full or two of individuals. After a decade of popular shows like “24” and “NCIS LA” where every plot device seems designed to allow the protagonists to find reasons to violate rights it’s reasonable to assume that at least a few individuals in security agencies can’t separate the facts from their favorite fictions.

More: Justice Department Fights Release of Secret Court Opinion Finding Unconstitutional Surveillance

Creationism & Climate Denialism – The Future Tearing Points in the GOP

In this video P. Z. Meyers, Genie Scott, and Larry Moran discuss the ideologies driving the GOP’s anti science and anti-reason voter blocs as well as the tactics of the Tea Parties. At the local levels I’ve pointed out how the far right extreme blocs are minorities – but how they are also highly effective at local levels while remaining toxic at the national level. You will continue to see the effects of this over the next decade in state and local legislatures and school boards.

The local Tea Party blocs are taking over local school boards because nobody else wants to do it, and the religious zealots among them are trying to drive creationism and climate denialism into public schools, attacking the public schools through privatization efforts, voucher programs, and charter or magnet school initiatives that drive children into schools run by religious institutions. They are doing this all at state level or below, because they know that none of these efforts will fly if put to national vote or the full congress.

I’m with P.Z on the charter school question — the religious right has latched onto this concept in a big way over the past decade.

Watch the part where Genie draws the Venn diagrams, this patch work ideological spectrum allows the Republican party to stitch the libertarian right to the religious right and is a very important bloc for them — if the Democrats want to succeed in Red States that is exactly the place they must tear at.

Red states are going to suffer more over the long run from Climate Change, so this is an issue where the Democrats can make major inroads if they work locally in the red states even though it seems impossible at this point. Anti-Science is also bad business which where they can make headway as well.

Religious Politics and Secular Values Changed Louisiana

This is good overview of how the creationist groups work behind the scenes on anti-science and regressive social legislation. It’s not just evolution – it’s also gay marriage, climate change, stem cells, right to die, and other issues where religious zealots are stalking state congressional halls as part of one large consortium. What’s happening in Louisiana has happened here in my state as well, it’s not just one state or one governor.

 

Why I’m Voting for President Obama

I’m voting for President Obama because I trust him to do the right thing, and even on the issues where we don’t agree I know that he will make his choices based on principles and what he sees as best for our country as a whole rather than based on political expediency or the dictates of narrow interests. I have confidence in him as President and I know that he’s principled because I’ve watched him in action first as a candidate and then as our president for five years now.

When this started out I was not a Barack Obama fan – instead I was one of the many here at this site writing posts against him and campaigning for his opponents (that included Clinton, Guiliani, Romney, and McCain at various points as the long primary season wound into the national election). I was against him as president and was pretty firmly seated in the “anyone but Obama” camp because I still believed all the far right bumper stickers about him, and even took part in some of the attempts to slime him with Reverend Wright and other things.

Even after he was elected I was still heavily criticizing him regarding jobs and the economy all the way into 2010, but over time he slowly turned all of those negatives around. He demonstrated his leadership time and again, and took a lot of heat not only from the right, but also from many of the progressives in his own party to work through issues with a highly recalcitrant Congress. Under his guidance I watched as multiple branches of our Federal Government became more open, more effective, and more efficient.

At the same time I watched the right become bitter and hardened, witch hunting not only our new president but also anyone in their own party who didn’t kow-tow to their hard right litany at every other step. The cracked pots were let in the back door, and I ran out the front, at first to become an independent, and then a year later a registered Democrat.

Meanwhile, President Obama took the fight directly to the specific terrorist organizations who were attacking us and destabilizing the subcontinent of Asia and the Middle East. He quickly got results, using a combination of drone warfare, sanctions, agreements and diplomacy to further US interests and missions.

He didn’t care if the terrorists were hiding in Yemen and Pakistan and being sheltered by factions of those country’s military. He went after them anyway, just as he had promised in his campaign; he took out leader after leader until we got Osama Bin Laden hiding in Abottobad, Pakistan. Both Romney and McCain had roundly criticized him for saying he would go into Pakistan during the campaign, but he persisted until justice was done.

I’ve watched our President in action, turning the country around, doing what was required to save the auto industry, putting the country back to work with construction projects across the nation when we needed it most, and I’ve seen him persevere while the rabid right did everything in their power to cause him and our country to fail. I’ve seen him smile and still try to deal with Republican congressmen even as one of them called him a liar during an address to a joint session of Congress.

That joint session was for his landmark health care initiative, and I’m glad it passed. Now all of my nieces and nephews have a chance to stay on their parents health insurance as they go into those starter jobs. Now my pacemaker isn’t a pre-existing condition hurdle to changing insurance if I want to.

It’s now five years later, and I’m a big supporterIt was that kind of bile and the over the top charges like “Death panels” at that joint session and Barack’s persistent work against our real foes overseas that made me reconsider the propaganda I’d been fed, and made me dig deeper into the issues. At most junctures I found myself deciding that our president was right, and his opponents were absolutely crazed, as I dug into the facts of each issue.

I found that we agree on most issues regarding climate, social issues like gay marriage, and women’s rights. I fully support the regulations on Wall Street — we can’t afford vulture and wild West capitalism of the sort his opponent wants.

I honestly don’t think there is anyone out there who can do a better job as President for the next four years. Instead, I firmly believe that putting anyone else into office would seriously jeopardize the slow but steady recovery that we are in.

That’s why our President, Barack Obama, not only has my complete confidence and trust as president, but also my vote for the next four years.

Why I’m Voting Against Mitt Romney

There are many reasons I’m voting Democrat this election but prime among them is that Mitt Romney has no core, no soul, no integrity. There are many words that you would never apply to him after his several years of unsuccessful campaigning, but chief among them are the words “courageous,” “consistent,” “principled,” “honest,” and least of all “caring.”

Instead you can see him lie every day, blandly smiling and glad-handing the crowds as he puts another baldfaced whopper across. You have to wonder if he’s chuckling inside and thinking, “I wonder how many of these hapless rubes bought that one.”

There’s nothing worse than frat boy weasels who lie to your face knowing that they are lying, knowing full well that you see through their lie. It doesn’t matter if they are trying to sell a junker off a used car lot or running for president, most people can smell them coming — but others seem defenseless against their toothsome grins. Anytime that Mitt has seemed to say something solid on the campaign trail, the next day he sends his staff out to walk it back, since he seems not to have the spine required to retract it in person, or to stand for something specific himself.

Maybe you’ve been willing to accept the lies because Romney’s a “member of the GOP team,” or because you hate our current President — but politics is not a sport, and you need to be bigger than just a rooter for your team. The US can’t afford another second generation elitist sliming their way into office, not here, not now, as the economy is just recovering from the worst recession since the great depression. We don’t need more of the same deregulation, the same laissez faire, “who cares about all those bad loans” attitudes at the helm. We certainly don’t need a president who has so little faith in our country that he off-shores most of his money made after years of off-shoring our jobs and dumping insolvent and Bain debt-saddled companies into bankruptcy.

Almost worse than Romney are the people who would come into power with himWe don’t need a president who thinks 47 percent of us don’t matter, because the president is elected to serve everyone, not just the people who financed their campaign or who voted for them.

Romney would also create market instability — he’s already threatened to fire Bernanke, and to kill Obamacare, and his election will empower a fiscal cliff-diving congressional faction. His tax and fiscal policy is both misguided and murky – all of the above would sow uncertainty and create great instability to a slowly recovering economy.

Almost worse than Romney are the people who would come into power with him, as the reactionary fundamentalist wing of the party is in full control of the GOP right now. With Mitt, we would get people from the clash of civilizations crowd (like John Bolton), who won’t rest until they get us into another world economy-wrecking war. Anti-science blustering blowhards for the oil companies and religious right, like Joe Barton and Todd Akin, are clinging tightly to his coat tails, and we sure don’t need “strict Bible constructionists” on the Supreme Court either.

We really can’t afford another anti-science administration — the world is changing much too fast and our children’s futures are entirely dependent our ability to adapt and foster new technologies. Mitt would bring a whole crowd of reactionary Luddites with him.

I can’t vote for Mitt as well because of his stance on gay marriage, I can’t vote for him because of his stance against women’s rights, I can’t vote for him because of all the misogynist cavemen that he would bring with him were he to win. And I can’t vote for him because there’s a chance that the Senate could flip this year, and I think we need checks and balances. The GOP in full control of all branches of government is the prime ingredient in a recipe for future disasters.

Most of all, I can’t vote for Mitt because there’s nothing behind the bluster and puff: he’s just a spoiled pile of meringue whipped together from bile and the last century’s GOP bumper stickers.