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.

#StopTheSequester

The quickest way to rekindle recession is to make this massive cut. Maybe that’s what the GOP wants, but it’s not what their constituents want. The GOP’s sequester will impact cities and towns all across the U.S. in many ways. Stop it, send a letter to your congressperson now while you are thinking about it.

#StopTheSequester – YouTube.

Find your representative and give him an ear full.

Obama Warns Sequester Will Cause Job Losses – YouTube

The GOP threatens to shoot the economy again, just because.

President Barack Obama warned Tuesday that "people will lose their jobs" if across-the-board budget cuts, known as the sequester, take effect as scheduled next week. (Feb. 19)

via Obama Warns Sequester Will Cause Job Losses – YouTube.