Daily Archives: Jan. 31, 2006

Bush gave solid speech, but will Congress act?

For a speech that mentioned "freedom" 17 times, President Bush’s fifth State of the Union address also included some welcome, forward-looking talk about the need to break the U.S. addiction to Mideast oil, get competitive on math and science and the like.
The question is how compliant Congress wants to be — especially with midterm elections looming and Bush a second-termer with lagging poll numbers. Can Bush turn his standing ovations into enough productive action on behalf of the American people to keep the full Congress in Republican hands and the remainder of his presidency relevant?
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Ready, set, blog

President Bush has a lot riding on his State of the Union address. Democrats seem poised to make midterm gains in November, and his low approval ratings threaten his ability to lead on major reforms. Can he regain some political capital or is he already a lame duck? What did you like and dislike about the speech? What was missing? Are his proposals realistic or a lot of political pandering? Tell us what you think, both during the speech and afterward.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Get ready for some irreverent comments

Dave Barry’s blog is plugging our live State of the Union coverage tonight, and he links to our blog. So we may get some new visitors. One of Barry’s bloggers has already warned: “Do they not know what sort hangs out here?” Should be fun.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Alito got what he deserved; so did Democrats

President Bush ran on a promise to appoint conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court. He had to wait 4½ years for a chance to do so, but with last fall’s confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and this morning’s 58-42 Senate confirmation vote of Samuel Alito, that sizable piece of Bush’s legacy fell into place. As the replacement for moderate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Alito is expected to steer the court to the right on defining issues from abortion to affirmative action. Democratic senators unhappy about that ideological shift did a disservice to the Senate’s role in the process with their lame (and, for some, disingenuous) attempt at a filibuster Monday. In the end, Alito proved well-qualified for a seat on the nation’s highest court, and Democrats got a hard lesson in how much elections matter.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

King was an equal partner

Coretta Scott King was known as the “first lady of civil rights,” but just how much she contributed to her husband’s civil rights legacy often is not fully appreciated. She was a full partner with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped shape his stand on issues such as the Vietnam War and women’s rights. When he was struck down by an assassin’s bullet, she courageously led a march he had planned.
Her later work was crucial to identifying his legacy with broader social concerns such as ending poverty, gang violence, and war. And without her leadership and determination, there likely would not be a federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day or a King Center in Atlanta. Her controlling stewardship of King’s legacy sometimes drew criticism, but there’s no disputing that she will be remembered as a great civil rights leader in her own regard.
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Casting a wide net for underage sex

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline might have some legal basis to argue that, under Kansas law, any evidence of underage sexual activity is evidence of a crime and therefore should be reported by doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.
But as we argue in an editorial on today’s Opinion page, there’s good reason to worry that such a broad-brush approach could violate physician-patient privacy and discourage teens from seeking medical advice and treatment. Moreover, Kline’s motivations don’t inspire confidence: Where does his zeal in cracking down on sex offenders end and his zeal in pushing an anti-abortion agenda begin? It’s not always clear.
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Find balance on funeral buffer zone

The Sedgwick County Commission is scheduled to consider a resolution Wednesday asking the state to create a buffer zone to protect families “from unwarranted harassment during funerals and memorial services.” It should approve it.
The Kansas Legislature this week is holding hearings on just such a proposal, sponsored by Sedgwick County Republican Sens. Carolyn McGinn and Jean Schodorf, that would impose a 300-foot buffer zone around funerals to protect grieving family members from the ghoulish protests of the Phelps “church” or any other group out to harass and disrupt services.
Unfortunately, it’s a needed law. The only concern here is finding the right balance between freedom of speech rights and what most people see as the legitimate right to privacy inherent in a funeral service.
I think this legislation, if carefully crafted, can withstand court scrutiny — and protect the rights (and safety) of both sides.
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Not much cause of optimism yet about Hamas

Some optimists are hoping that Hamas will moderate its views now that it has to govern. But that’s not happening yet. Khaled Meshal, the exiled political leader of Hamas, said this weekend that Hamas would not “submit to pressure to recognize Israel, because the occupation is illegitimate and we will not abandon our rights,” The New York Times reported. And he insisted that “resistance is a legitimate right that we will practice and protect.”
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has already made up its mind. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that the United State will no longer provide aid to the Palestinian government (but will provide some humanitarian aid). And she said Monday while in Europe (in photo) trying to convince Russian, European Union and United Nations officials to also cease their governmental aid, “You cannot be on one hand dedicated to peace and on the other dedicated to violence.”
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Idea may not deserve to float

State Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, succeeded in persuading the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee last week to advance a bill to allow high school swimmers and divers to also practice with nonschool club teams year-round. It’s of concern that lawmakers are meddling in the rules of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, which forbids such crossover participation. Another thing: Why should such dual training apply only to swimming and not to teen sports across the board? And anytime one lawmaker is pushing a bill inspired by personal experience — Schmidt’s two sons are talented swimmers — the rest of the Legislature needs to ask: Is this legislation really necessary?
Posted by Rhonda Holman