Monthly Archives: May 2008

If not Clinton, then which woman?

clintonnevada“The record suggests that if Clinton is not the nominee, no woman will seriously contend for the White House for another generation,” columnist Marie Cocco wrote. She noted that “only eight women currently serve as governors, the springboard to the White House for four of the past five presidents.” One of those female governors who is sometimes mentioned as a prospect is Kathleen Sebelius. But, Cocco pointed out, Sebelius “heads a state with six electoral votes and limited fundraising potential.”

Cocco wrote: “Clinton cleared the hurdles often cited as holding American women back, yet she is unlikely to surmount the final barrier. So you have to wonder. Is it something about Hillary, or something about us?”

Open thread 5/27

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Time to retire ‘as big as you think’

ksbigIn the upbeat new TV ads promoting Kansas attractions, the Kansas Department of Commerce blessedly limits its use of the current state slogan — “Kansas: as big as you think” — to an afterthought. We wouldn’t mind seeing the 3½-year-old phrase replaced. Those who don’t see a problem should consider the reaction of one out-of-stater, Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch columnist Joe Blundo. In a recent rumination on state slogans, Blundo suggested Kansas might even be repelling tourists with the tagline: “Far from attracting me, the slogan just makes me dread having to drive through Kansas on the way to Colorado,” he wrote.

The Kansas City Star recently asked author and branding expert Steve Cone what he thought of “as big as you think.”“Big?” responded Cone. “Meaning what?”

The problem with such slogans, he said, is that “there’s nothing head-nodding about them that makes people say, ‘Yeah, that’s exactly right.’”

Asked about one former slogan, “Land of Ah’s,” Cone said: “They probably should have kept it. Oz will always be associated with Kansas. When you get a great line, it’s intriguing. People won’t get tired of it.”

Eagle food columnist Joe Stumpe recently suggested some tasty replacements for “as big as you think”: “Kansas: Meat. Wheat. Chew on that.” Or “Kansas: Open wide.”

Rundle is achiever of year

Congratulations to David Rundle for receiving the Arc of Sedgwick County Adult Achiever of the Year award. The award recognizes citizens who have overcome disabilities to find success. Kevin Fish — executive director of the Arc, a non-profit agency serving individuals with developmental disabilities — said that not only has Rundle found personal success, he has become a “wonderful advocate” for people with disabilities. Rundle, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, writes commentaries for The Eagle, primarily on disability issues. “We need to help bring the needs of the disabled to the attention of the public and government,” Rundle said. “If I help do that as a writer, I am glad.”

Remember the fallen

memdayToday the nation pauses to honor the fallen — the courageous Americans who heard the call to serve, followed it into harm’s way, and gave their all in defense of freedom. Our thoughts today are of the 54 Kansans killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and of their loved ones, for whom loss is a daily companion. We also feel the immensity of the debt owed to all those in the armed forces who have died protecting America’s liberty and security, not just in this century but over the nation’s history. It is because of their selfless valor that Americans are able to live freely and peacefully.

Open thread 5/26

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Leasing turnpikes a good deal?

turnpikeAs great as the Kansas Turnpike is to drive on, could that asset be doing even more for the state? What’s going on in other states may make Kansas leaders wonder. Citigroup and a Spanish partner Abertis won the bidding last week to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 75 years, in a $12.8 billion deal meant to spare the state from charging tolls on more roads and to help fund mass transit and road and bridge repairs. Gov. Ed Rendell called it “a very good deal for Pennsylvania drivers and taxpayers”; but first, state lawmakers must agree.

Similarly, Chicago leased its Chicago Skyway for $1.83 billion in 2005 and Indiana obtained $3.85 billion in 2006 on a lease of the Indiana Toll Road.

East High an elite school

Congratulations to Wichita East High School, which ranks No. 464 in America’s top 1,300 public high schools, according to Newsweek magazine. The rating was based on a formula involving Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007, divided by the number of graduating seniors.

East was the only Kansas high school outside of the Kansas City area that made the list.

Kansas isn’t Obama country

obamasebeliusThe ancestral ties and gubernatorial endorsement that link Barack Obama to Kansas aren’t positioning him to win its six electoral votes in November. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll showed John McCain favored to win the state 55 to 34 percent (despite having lost the Kansas GOP primary to Mike Huckabee by 36 points). And should Obama pick Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as his running mate, only 28 percent of Kansans would be more inclined to vote for him, compared with 34 percent who said they’d be less likely to vote for an Obama-Sebelius ticket.

Yet in the same poll, 56 percent said Sebelius is doing an excellent or good job as governor; only 43 percent said the same for President Bush.

Open thread 5/25

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A new electoral map?

obmacainHere’s an interesting look at how a McCain-Obama matchup could affect the electoral map for November. Barack Obama is right that he potentially could redraw the presidential map and put red states such as Virginia and North Carolina in play for Democrats.
But John McCain has shake-up strengths, too, and a chance to steal several blue-leaning states such as Michigan and Wisconsin with his appeal to Reagan Democrats.

In the end, a close McCain-Obama election could come down to a handful of small states, such as Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada — all of them narrowly won by President Bush in 2004, all of them now considered toss-ups.

The electoral map is in flux, and no one knows for sure what the new map is going to look like.

Governor, Sunflower should talk alternatives

coalplantHere’s an idea that Kansans on both sides of the fight over a proposed Sunflower Electric Power Corp. coal-plant expansion ought to be able to get behind, now that it’s clear Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ latest veto will stand:

“I think what would be good news for the people of Kansas would be if Sunflower and the executive branch could sit down and start talking about real alternatives for meeting the base-load energy needs for western Kansas,” said state Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City.
Unfortunately, Sunflower may just want to carry on the fight in court. “We remain committed to providing reliable electric generation and transmission services to our member owners in central and western Kansas, and the Holcomb expansion is part of that mission,” said Earl Watkins, Sunflower’s president and CEO, in a written response to legislators’ decision not to try again for a veto override.

Creating an army of young volunteers

volunteersAnother reason to be optimistic about the future in Kansas: news of the creation of a Kansas Corps of college students who can be dispatched to help communities. “With a single phone call, this group could be mobilized to serve any area of the state,” Allie Crouse, a Wichita State University student, recently told the Kansas Board of Regents. She is among about 80 others who’ve spent 16 months planning the corps. At a recent trial run in Melvern, Kan., 50 students from six colleges built a hiking and biking trail on the site of a trash dump. No word from the regents as to whether they can oblige the group’s request to help with funding, starting in fiscal year 2010. But the Kansas Corps is an outstanding idea. Many student service groups already do great work around the state, but this one could be coordinated and deployed as needed. As Curt Brungardt, a professor at Fort Hays State University who is also involved, told the regents: “Think of the power of it.”

McCain’s preacher problems

mccainhageeAnd the GOP thought Obama had a preacher problem? John McCain this week dumped two right-wing preachers whose endorsements he had earlier sought. The first, televangelist John Hagee, said that God had used the Nazis to hunt the Jews.

Try working that into the party platform.

McCain also repudiated and renounced pastor Rod Parsley, who called Islam “the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil,” among other choice insights.
For the record, a president must represent Muslim Americans, too.

So far, it’s two strikes for McCain in his search for spiritual endorsements. Is a third wacko waiting in the wings? Stay tuned.

Open thread 5/24

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Clinton’s fuzzy math on votes

clintonstrangleNewsweek columnist Jonathan Alter explains why Hillary Clinton’s latest argument — that she is winning the popular vote — doesn’t add up. It’s also sure to poison efforts to unite the Democratic Party.

Is Salerno the best choice?

salerno.jpgPatrick Salerno may be a great candidate for Wichita city manager, but without any other candidates to compare him with, it’s difficult to tell. After saying it planned to bring in other finalists for the position, the City Council rushed approval Thursday to begin negotiating with Salerno for the job. The quick decision presumably was because Salerno is also a candidate for the city manager job in Durham, N.C. But the fact that Durham is having such a difficult time deciding and has considered looking beyond Salerno and its other finalists raises more questions about Salerno, who was forced out of his previous job in Sunrise, Fla.

Bill wants Hillary as vice president

clintonhillbillwave2.jpgBill Clinton would like Hillary Clinton considered as Barack Obama’s running mate, according to Clinton friends — though it is uncertain what Hillary or Obama thinks of the idea. Bill reportedly thinks that if Hillary doesn’t win the nomination this year, the vice presidency might be the best path for her to become president in 2016.

McCain’s ‘respectful disagreement’ on same-sex marriage

mccainJohn McCain will satisfy few people with his fuzzy stand on gay marriage, as articulated to Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show. “People should be able to enter into legal agreements, and I think that that is something that we should encourage, particularly in the case of insurance and other areas, decisions that have to be made. I just believe in the unique status of marriage between man and woman. And I know that we have a respectful disagreement on that issue,” he told DeGeneres, who plans to marry partner Portia de Rossi in light of the California Supreme Court’s recent decision.

DeGeneres responded by likening gay rights to civil rights and voting rights. “It just feels like there is this old way of thinking that we are not all the same. We are all the same people, all of us. You’re no different than I am. Our love is the same. . . . When someone says, ‘You can have a contract, and you’ll still have insurance, and you’ll get all that,’ it sounds to me like saying, ‘Well, you can sit there; you just can’t sit there.’ That’s what it sounds like to me. It feels like — it doesn’feel inclusive.”

You can watch the video on the show’s Web site.

Open thread 5/23

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‘Idol’ outcome a tribute to arts education

cook, davidEspecially as American education slides back toward “the basics,” one element of the landslide “American Idol” victory of David Cook deserves some notice — his gratitude to his Blue Springs, Mo., elementary music teacher, Fredalyn Gentry, who appeared on Wednesday’s finale. Asked what went through his head when he heard his name called, Cook said: “That my music teacher, Mrs. Gentry, made me sing in the Christmas pageant in second grade. Now I’m here. The ride has been pretty nuts.” Let it also be noted that Cook, now a cool rocker, appeared in high school productions of “The Music Man,” “West Side Story,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” (His pratfall-filled “Make ’Em Laugh” from a 2001 “Singin’ in the Rain” can be seen, sort of, on YouTube.) Who says arts education is a frill?

Politics-free best wishes for Kennedy

kennedyWhat a relief that partisanship has been set aside on Capitol Hill regarding Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and his diagnosis of a cancerous brain tumor. When the news of Kennedy’s condition came via BlackBerry to lunching GOP lawmakers Tuesday, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., led his colleagues in a prayer for the liberal lion so many Republicans have reviled for so long. “I prayed for grace and peace for Sen. Kennedy and his family,” Brownback told an aide. “I prayed for healing.” Brownback was a natural choice, given that he and Kennedy have collaborated on issues such as illegal immigration and Down syndrome.

Top officials also complained about torture

aschcroftIt wasn’t only FBI agents who complained about interrogation techniques used on detainees. According to a Justice Department report released this week, so did former Attorney General John Ashcroft (in photo), FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, then assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division. One of their concerns was that the abuse could taint any legal proceedings against the detainees. And that has happened. A top Pentagon official recently chose to drop charges against a detainee who was roughly interrogated at Guantanamo, the Washington Post reported.

Clinton to the Supreme Court?

supremecourtbldg.jpgInstead of asking Hillary Clinton to be vice president, Barack Obama should promise to appoint her to the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote James Andrew Miller. “If Obama were to promise Clinton the first court vacancy, her supporters would actually have a stronger incentive to support him for president than they would if she were going to be vice president,” he wrote. “Given the Supreme Court’s delicate liberal-conservative balance, she would play a major role in charting the country’s future; there is no guarantee that a Clinton vice presidency would achieve such importance.” But how is Clinton qualified to be a high court justice? And wouldn’t a promise to appoint her be just as motivating to the GOP base?

Are Gates, Rice appeasers, too?

“I guess President Bush must think Defense Secretary Robert Gates is an appeaser of terrorists. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, too. And U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker,” wrote columnist Trudy Rubin. She noted that all three support having direct talks with Iran, as Barack Obama does. “What makes the president’s remarks even more hypocritical is the abject failure of his own Iran policy,” she wrote. “No one has strengthened Iran’s hand more in the Mideast region than George W. Bush.”

Rubin argued that John McCain is hypocritical, too. “There is no way Iraq can be stabilized and U.S. troops withdrawn safely without the cooperation of Tehran,” she wrote. “McCain is fooling himself and the public if he thinks he can avoid the issue of talks.”

FYI: In case you haven’t seen it, here is the video of “Hardball” host Chris Matthews trying to get talk-radio host Kevin James to explain what former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain did wrong.

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