Monthly Archives: October 2006

Bush plays both sides on gay issue

Days before the election, President Bush is falling back on a tried-and-true topic for mobilizing the base: fear of gay marriage.
“For decades, activist judges have tried to redefine America by court order,” Bush told a Georgia crowd Monday. “Just this last week in New Jersey, another activist court issued a ruling that raises doubt about the institution of marriage. We believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and should be defended.”
The court ruled that the state must extend to same-sex couples the same legal rights and benefits as married couples enjoy, either in marriage or civil unions — it’s up to the Legislature to decide.
In fact, Bush has expressed support in the past for civil unions for gay couples. “I don’t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that’s what a state chooses to do so,” Bush said in a TV interview in 2004.
But that doesn’t make for a good applause line on the stump.
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Hugo Chavez may win next U.S. presidential election

I’m not big on voting machine conspiracies, but I was surprised to learn that a small software company with ties to the Venezuelan government — Smartmatic Corp. — owns a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems. The company denies that the administration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has any role in its operations. But Venezuelan authorities picked this little-known company — which didn’t have any experience in voting technology — to replace that country’s elections machinery just before a referendum that confirmed Chavez as president in August 2004, the New York Times reported. The company has since been restructured into an elaborate web of offshore companies and foreign trusts, the Times reported. The company’s acquisition of Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland, Calif., is now being reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviewed the Dubai port deal.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Open thread

The year the centrists take charge?

The "radical center" sounds like an oxymoron in the context of our nation’s polarized politics. But Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne (in photo) sees a middle-of-the-road political bloc that could take advantage of any opening that Republicans provide in the midterm elections: "Adventurous policies designed to create enthusiasm on the right turned off a large number of less ideological voters." So with centrists upset with the GOP, he concludes: "This looks to be the year of the radical center. If it is, the Democrats will win. And if they win, their task will be to meet the aspirations of a diverse group of dissatisfied and disappointed Americans. Not an easy chore, but one that certainly beats being in the opposition."
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Add teachers to Cosby’s list

Bill Cosby isn’t backing off his criticism of some African-American parents. At a forum last weekend in Los Angeles, he said that some parents aren’t involved enough in their children’s education and don’t know what their children are doing, Associated Press reported. "We’ve got parents who won’t check the bedrooms of their children to see if there’s a gun," he said.
Cosby also chided teachers for not doing enough to help kids, especially when they aren’t able to offer clear explanation about why courses such as English and algebra are important.
"If you teach English and you can’t answer this child, then you’re in trouble, and we’ve been in trouble," Cosby said.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Dubious, bogus and utterly phony headlines

The following satirical headlines come from borowitzreport.com:
BUSH PROPOSES MAKING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ‘GUEST WORKERS’; Would Be One-Day Citizens on November 7
BARACK OBAMA IMPERILS DEMOCRATS’ LOSING TRADITION, PARTY MEMBERS FEAR; Dean Reassures Dems: ‘We Can Still Screw This Up’
BUSH: I WILL STAY THE COURSE OF NOT USING THE PHRASE ‘STAY THE COURSE’; But Will Not Cut and Run from ‘Cut and Run,’ President Says
McCARTNEY DIVORCE ON THE BRINK OF CIVIL WAR, EXPERTS FEAR; James Baker Calls Beatle Split ‘A Heckuva Mess’
U.S. CEDES CONTROL OF IRAQ TO JERRY BRUCKHEIMER; Megaproducer to Guide Nation’s Transition to Disaster Film
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Americans are connecting faster and connecting more

A recent study reported by Pew Internet and American Life project reported Internet penetration increased from 66 percent to 73 percent in American homes between March 2005 and March 2006. The increase may seem small, but consider also there was a 40 percent increase in broadband Internet users, twice the growth rate from the previous years. And people aren’t just viewing content; the study reported that 31 million people, or 42 percent of Internet users, have posted content to the Internet.
This is largely age related as well. More than 51 percent of users who posted information were under 30, and those with annual incomes less than $50,000 were slightly more likely than higher income homes to post information on-line, indicating more of a level playing field. Either that or it’s mostly teenagers posting YouTube videos and MySpace journals.
Posted by Angie Holladay

What part of illegal campaign sign don’t you understand?

As the Nov. 7 election nears, expect more violations of city yard sign rules. This past weekend, for example, campaign signs for Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, were posted illegally along several major roads in northwest Wichita — and in several of those locations, more than a dozen Tiahrt signs were posted illegally, one after another.
Some campaign volunteers may not know that they can’t post signs on public property or in right of ways, which includes the area on private property between a public sidewalk and the street. But even so, posting signs illegally reflects poorly on the campaigns — either the campaign didn’t inform its volunteers of the basic rules, or the volunteers know the rules and don’t care.
By the way, I smiled when I first heard about the vigilante group that puts orange stickers on illegally posted yard signs — and I wondered if any of you bloggers were a part of it.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Maybe Cheney was talking about a dunking booth

Even White House spokesman Tony Snow had trouble spinning Vice President Dick Cheney’s comments that seemed to endorse torture. Snow said that Cheney wasn’t referring to "water boarding" when he said last week that dunking terror suspects in water was "a very important tool." Snow, however, couldn’t explain what Cheney meant.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Imagine what Adams might say today

Garrison Keillor’s "The Writers Almanac" radio program today featured this quote from our second president, John Adams:
"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Open thread

Phil Kline endorses Paul Morrison

No, this isn’t another one of our satirical headlines. Former Johnson County Republican state lawmaker Phil Kline (that’s Phil with one “l,” unlike Attorney General Phill Kline) is among the latest Republicans to jump parties and back Paul Morrison, a Democrat. “Classic Kline,” as he was known when he and Phill served together in the Legislature, said: “I think Paul Morrison’s character and proven legal experience in the largest county in the state makes him the superior choice.”

Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Younger workers want to be heard — often

The generation of kids raised without knowing the value of a good spanking, and who never heard the mantra “children are to be seen and not heard,” is hitting the work force. And times will be changing.
The traditional “top down” management style our parents worked under won’t cut it with Gen X and Gen Y workers, which should signal behavior changes in boardrooms across the country. Rasmussen Reports conducted a survey for Hudson recruiting consultants, and reports that 24 percent of younger workers want feedback at least once a week, if not daily. Only 11 percent of the traditionalists — workers born between 1928 and 1945 — seek that amount of contact with their supervisors. A staggering 81 percent of younger workers want direct access to senior management, compared with 76 percent of baby boomers. Also, 26 percent of the younger workers today would want to socialize with their boss at least once a month, compared with 17 percent of traditionalists.
Henry Ford didn’t have that kind of time to spend on the manufacturing line.
Posted by Angie Holladay

No anniversary bouquet from Brooks to Corkins

Kansas Education Commissioner Bob Corkins had an upbeat assessment of his first year on the job when he met recently with The Eagle editorial board, pointing with special pride to his efforts to streamline databases, reorganize the department staff and reach out to school districts. But some superintendents, including Wichita’s Winston Brooks, gave mixed reviews of the controversial Corkins, a lawyer who came into the job without either education or management experience.
“Bob’s in way over his head,” Brooks told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Part of the problem was the quality of a technical assistance team that the Education Department deployed to help Wichita meet its testing mandates under the federal No Child Left Behind law. “God only knows we need help,” Brooks said. “But we aren’t going to get it from people who first and foremost didn’t prepare for the visit, they didn’t have a clue where Wichita has been and where Wichita is going. And they weren’t experts in the area. This is far too important to be dealing with rookies.”
Meanwhile, board chairman Steve Abrams had only praise for Corkins in a story in the Kansas City Star: “I will certainly argue that we have been moving forward very, very well under his leadership.”
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Tougher winters, or car-bomb bingo?

Quick, where would you rather live: Baghdad or Stockholm?
A growing number of Iraqis agree. While Iraqis have been streaming out of the country since the war began in 2003, the exodus is accelerating and Sweden has become a favored destination. It’s not for the climate. Exiles cite Sweden’s relatively lax immigration laws, compared with the increasingly restrictive ones in Denmark, Britain and the rest of Europe.
While you wonder how this might transform Sweden in the years to come, the larger question is what mass emigration means for Iraq.
Those who leave are presumably those with the brains, the means and the most to lose — just the sort of people you want for a stable government and economy. Iraq might now have elections, but the middle class is voting with its feet.
Posted by Dave Knadler

Who gets the invisibility cloak?

Scientists recently reported progress in developing an invisibility cloak, a la Harry Potter.
It got me thinking: Who could most benefit from a cloaking device?
No doubt disgraced predator Rep. Mark Foley wishes he had an invisibility cloak about now.
In terms of overexposure, I think Fred Phelps needs a cloak. Give one to Paris Hilton, too.
Any other ideas about who should get an invisibility cloak? Other practical applications?
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Dealing in dirt as Election Day nears

If you think things have gotten nasty in the Kansas attorney general race, take a look around. Attack ads airing in the rest of the country make Phill Kline and Paul Morrison seem like old fishing buddies.
The Washington Post reports that this year, political ads are going way beyond negative, completely abandoning issues in favor of casting opponents as moral degenerates. The story includes some pretty outrageous examples.
The Post notes that the majority of such ads are coming from the GOP, which this year finds itself with a record that is not particularly inspiring.
“You’re going to see more of this sensational, off-the-wall stuff,” one expert said. “If you get people disgusted, they might withdraw from politics, and that’s the real goal these days.”
Posted by Dave Knadler

Let the municipal campaigns begin

Given that some in Washington, D.C., already are looking past Nov. 7 to 2008, it’s not surprising that some in Wichita are focused not on the fall elections but on the spring municipal races, particularly for mayor. Two-term City Council member Carl Brewer all but said last week that he’s running for mayor, and he has appointed a campaign treasurer. That should make for interesting council meetings, which already have been tense at times since some members went public with criticism of Mayor Carlos Mayans’ eccentric and often divisive leadership style. With all that the city’s engaged in — WaterWalk, arena parking, troubled attractions, etc. — there should be plenty to debate in the races for mayor and three council seats. Bring them on.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Dubious, bogus and utterly phony headlines

‘SWIFT BOAT’ GROUP SAYS KLINE AD GOES TOO FAR; GOP Attack Group Says Even It Has Standards
MAYOR MAYANS OPENS FOOD-FIGHT THEME RESTAURANT DOWNTOWN; Invites City Council Members to Opening — City Manager Kolb Unveils Plan for Rival Eatery: George’s Place
WATERWALK LANDS HAZ-MAT BUSINESS TO TREAT POLLUTED DIRT AT SITE; Firm ‘Thrilled’ to Be Part of Development
COWTOWN HIRES GUNFIGHT RE-ENACTOR AS NEW DIRECTOR; Man Falls Over and Plays Dead During First Board Meeting
Posted by Randy Scholfield

Government should set example on hiring disabled

David P. Rundle, a freelance journalist who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, had a column our Opinion pages last Sunday about how disability issues should be part of evaluating candidates. He argues that services to the disabled are important both financially (it’s cheaper to provide in-home care than put people in nursing homes or state hospitals) and morally (it says who we are as a society).
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is also trying to draw attention to the disabled. Its new initiative promotes the hiring of persons with disabilities into civil service jobs. The number of federal employees with severe disabilities has declined from a high of 31,337 workers in 1994 to 24,086 in 2005.
The 1973 Rehabilitation Act banned discrimination against people with disabilities in federal hiring. EEOC Commissioner Christine Griffin challenged federal agencies, “Congress directed the federal government to set the example for all other employers. Our example needs improvement.”
Posted by Angie Holladay

Open thread

Brownback on Iraq

Stumping for an Indiana congressman at an event that was supposed to be about social issues, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said: “I’m not happy with how this is going in Iraq.”
But he said Democrats’ cut-and-run strategy would embolden “Islamic fascists.” He also repeated the GOP line that the homeland has gone five years without another terrorist attack because “we took the fight to them.”
Posted by Rhonda Holman

High times at Exxon Mobil

Hard to say which is more annoying: that Exxon Mobil made $10.5 billion last quarter, or that the profit is only the second highest in history for a U.S. company.
The first highest, of course, was the $10.7 billion Exxon Mobil made in the fourth quarter of 2005.
Most of the company’s profits come from overseas production of oil and natural gas, but analysts also credited high U.S. demand for gasoline, which barely budged even when prices topped $3 a gallon during the summer.
“At what price do people really start cutting back? We’re not sure,” said energy analyst Jacques Rousseau.
Good question. And the petroleum industry knows a good way to find out.
Posted by Dave Knadler

Lose weight; save oil

We have another reason to lose weight: According to research conducted by the University of Illinois-Urbana, losing weight can save gasoline consumption. The study revealed that Americans on an average weigh about 25 pounds more today than in 1960. Adding the extra baggage to cars results in an extra 1 billion gallons more of gasoline used per year. Losing the extra weight could provide enough fuel for 1.7 million cars, light trucks and SUVs for a year — as it helped the environment and resulted in better health.

Posted by Angie Holladay

Expanded Kline video is even worse

The Eagle editorial board is back in the news again. Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks has a column today that links to our editorial board video excerpt from our interview with Attorney General Phill Kline. And the Topeka Capital-Journal did a news article about it. Associated Press also reported about the video today.
During the interview, I asked Kline if he was going to use the 15-year-old sexual harassment allegation against his opponent, Paul Morrison, in his campaign. He said, “I’m not.” But less than a week later, Kline held a press conference about the unproven allegations.
Hendricks writes: “Character does matter. But isn’t it interesting that the only thing Kline could find on Morrison was so long ago, whereas Kline showed his true character this very month?”
Sherriene Jones, communication director for Kline, contacted The Eagle today and wanted the full clip, because she said she and Kline remembered that there was more to his answer than was included in the posted excerpt. They’re correct — though in a way that makes it worse for them.
My next question during the interview, which wasn’t included in the original video excerpt, was whether there would be a campaign commercial about this. Kline said “no,” then talked at length about other issues that he might do campaign commercials about. As we know, Kline quickly changed his mind about that, too.
We’ve now posted the full clip, which is about three minutes long, on our Web page.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee