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Maybe Dick Cheney is everywhere because he wants to be president after all. As a GOP leader, wrote Roger Simon of Politico, the 68-year-old former vice president “has many pluses. He is very, very good on TV. (People who don’t like what he says overlook how good he is at saying it.) He is calm, articulate and often courageous.” And, Simon added, “the Republicans need a person who knows how to attack. John McCain never seemed comfortable in that role.” He concluded: “Dick Cheney is the voice, the face, the spirit and the guts of the Republican Party today. He’s tanned, he’s rested and his approval ratings can only go up. The Republicans could do worse in 2012. And probably will.”
The battle between former Secretary of State Colin Powell and reigning GOP king Rush Limbaugh escalated last week. Two quotes:
“Rush Limbaugh says, ‘Get out of the Republican Party.’ Dick Cheney says, ‘He’s already out.’ I may be out of their version of the Republican Party, but there’s another version of the Republican Party waiting to emerge once again.” — Powell, in a Boston speech
“He’s for more spending. He’s for higher taxes. He’s against raising the social issues. He’s for affirmative action. He’s for amnesty for illegals. He endorsed Obama. And now there’s an agenda — an emerging agenda — that he’s waiting for for the Republican Party? The only thing emerging here is Colin Powell’s ego. Colin Powell represents the stale, the old, the worn-out GOP that never won anything. The party of Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Bill Scranton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and those types of people.” — Limbaugh, on his radio show
Peggy Noonan is unimpressed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ way with words, as exhibited by our former governor when asked about health care reform on MSNBC. Noonan wrote: “Ms. Sebelius began to answer in that dead and deadening governmental language that does not reveal or clarify but instead wraps legitimate queries in clouds of words and sends them on their way. I think I heard ‘accessing affordable quality health care,’ ‘single-payer plan vis-a-vis private multiparty insurers’ and ‘key component of quality improvement.’ In any case, she didn’t answer the question, which was a disappointment but not a surprise. No one answers the question anymore.” Casting beyond Sebelius-speak, Noonan said: “Do members of the administration speak obscurely because they can’t help themselves, or do they speak the way they speak because they really aren’t all that keen to have people understand them? Maybe they calculate that lack of clarity ensures maximum ability to maneuver. But maybe they should think less about maneuvering. They’re not helping the prevailing sense of national anxiety by speaking in a special lingo all their own.”
“Taking history into account could have protected the United States from engaging in practices that jeopardized our values, our democracy and even our lives,” Brandeis University professor James Mandrell wrote in the Los Angeles Times. He described how he came across an illustrated article on waterboarding published in a Spanish newspaper in 1836, just two years after Spain abolished the Inquisition. Mandrell wrote that the article “claimed that the principal objection to torture was not necessarily moral or ethical. Torture doesn’t work, it said: ‘It’s not efficacious.’”
“When (Dick) Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration,” wrote columnist David Brooks. Brooks noted how by 2005, the Bush administration had already backed away from or ended many of the policies that Cheney is criticizing President Obama about. For example, the CIA had stopped waterboarding and had rejected its legal justification while Bush was president, and Bush officials were working on trying to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. “The inauguration of Barack Obama has simply not marked a dramatic shift in the substance of American anti-terror policy,” Brooks said. “It has marked a shift in the public credibility of that policy.” Which is likely why Cheney is so worked up.
Northern Sedgwick County isn’t the only place along the Arkansas River where some landowners oppose adding public access points on the river for canoeists and kayakers. The Reno County Commission heard Tuesday from citizens concerned about trespassing, littering and other trouble. According to the Hutchinson News, Mike Fahrbach of the Haven area e-mailed commissioners about his experience with trespassers, four-wheelers and litterers. “Beer cans, beer bottles, beer cartons, diapers, shotgun shells and boxes, general trash, an old refrigerator, car parts, buckets of things, fast-food sacks. We even had an abandoned recliner until someone decided it needed to be lit on fire,” wrote Fahrbach, who acknowledged that those who go fishing or canoeing “have never caused a single problem.”
“We think it’s way more important to bring jobs to Kansas in the year 2009 than to worry about what our own jobs will be in the year 2011.” — Gov. Mark Parkinson, referring to the choice he and Lt. Gov. Troy Findley have made not to run for their jobs next year
“It could be a GOP tsunami in 2010 in Kansas.” — Washburn University political scientist professor Bob Beatty, on the dearth of strong Democratic candidates
“There will be no cakewalks.” — Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, a Republican running for governor, suggesting Democrats can’t be counted out in the gubernatorial and Senate races
Just 38 percent of Nevada voters have a favorable opinion of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and 50 percent have an unfavorable opinion, according to a Mason-Dixon poll. Reid, who is up for re-election in 2010, could face the same fate as former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who lost his re-election bid in 2004.
The most salient — and most widely ignored — point in judging the competing claims of Nancy Pelosi and the CIA is that regardless of what Pelosi was informed of, whether in a quiet hint or in a full briefing behind closed doors, it wouldn’t make torture any less illegal or any more acceptable. That’s why the Pentagon and the FBI, which apparently did know what was happening in Dick Cheney’s dungeons, refused to participate in this wholesale breach of American and international law. The rush to arraign Pelosi is a transparent attempt to divert attention from that paramount fact — the real crime. Pelosi made the mistake of saying out loud what everyone knows (if not in this instance, then in many others): that the CIA “misled” the Congress. It is hardly beyond belief that the Bush-Cheney regime and its compliant CIA Director George Tenet offered the congressional leaders little more than euphemisms such as “enhanced interrogation techniques”— and never owned up to what was actually going on. — Robert Shrum, the Week
We need a get-some-truth-from-the-speaker commission. Pelosi has offered several carefully parsed and ever-shifting explanations on what she knew about harsh techniques and when she knew it. She accused the CIA and the Bush administration of lying to Congress about what was actually happening with the suspects. That accusation rightfully drew a sharp rebuke from CIA Director Leon Panetta, a former Democratic member of the House. Pelosi apparently didn’t have a problem after Sept. 11 with harsh methods that were used on some suspects when the threat of repeat attacks seemed most acute. But now she would like to rewrite history, and extend a political war that voters thought they settled with the last presidential election. Confidence in Pelosi has been eroded by this episode. And, inconvenient for her, that’s the truth. — Chicago Tribune editorial
Gov. Mark Parkinson made the right call today in restoring federal funding for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri that the Legislature had cut. Anti-abortion lawmakers opposed the funding because Planned Parenthood performs abortions at its clinic in Overland Park. But the federal funds aren’t used for abortions; Planned Parenthood said the money only goes to clinics in Hays and Wichita, which provide health and family planning services to low-income Kansans. As Parkinson noted, “Eliminating funding for programs intended to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies does nothing to help reduce abortions in Kansas.” In fact, it could have the opposite result.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed many of the objections to his administration’s interrogation methods as “contrived indignation and phony moralizing.” His speech Thursday to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, was filled with false choices — such as how you either have to support the Bush administration “comprehensive strategy” in its entirety or you think that Sept. 11 was just a “one-off event.” And he claimed that to call some of the interrogation techniques “torture” is to “cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims.” Does Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has condemned waterboarding as torture, think terrorists are innocent victims? Cheney needs to go back to an undisclosed location.
On “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart “debated” some members of Congress opposed to the prospect of Guantanamo Bay detainees being relocated to their states.
“Not in Kansas,” said a bearded Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in a clip from a floor speech.
“OK, not Kansas,” Stewart responded. “All right. All right. That’s a ‘no’ from Kansas. That’s fine. That actually makes sense. They’re” — he did a puzzled pause — “tight on space.”
After a few more not-in-my-state clips, Stewart noted that “the United States is really good at imprisoning people. Why can’t we handle this?” and suggested Leavenworth.
To which Roberts was shown saying: “Leavenworth — where we educate, educate, all future Army officers. . . . You think Army officers want to study at Fort Leavenworth if terrorists are there? . . . I don’t think so. Not a chance.”
“But that’s what they’re studying,” Stewart said with exasperation. “They’re not going to be their lab partners.”
The resignation this week of Tracy Taylor (in photo) as president and CEO of the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp., effective June 30, provides a good opportunity to review and refocus KTEC’s mission and operations. A recent consultant’s report concluded that KTEC needed a clearer vision and focus and that it lacked transparency. Some lawmakers have also complained about the salaries of KTEC executives — Taylor was paid $280,000 a year. But rather than shut down KTEC and try to re-create some of its programs within the Kansas Department of Commerce, as former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius proposed, the state should find ways to make KTEC more effective.
The athletic corporations at the state’s big universities have long lacked transparency. The Kansas Legislature had to pass the “Lew Perkins law” in 2005 — named after the University of Kansas’ athletic director — to force them to disclose compensation agreements. But Kansas State University’s athletic corporation was so secretive that even K-State’s president and attorneys didn’t know about an agreement to pay former football coach Ron Prince (in photo) an additional $3.2 million to buy out his contract. K-State is suing to break the agreement, and it forced former athletic director Bob Krause, who made the deal, to resign from his current position at the university. But K-State, KU and Wichita State University need to make their athletic corporations more transparent. The combination of big budgets and little public scrutiny invites problems.
It’s terrible enough that priests and nuns terrorized and abused thousands of boys and girls in Ireland, according to a commission report released Wednesday. But — as was the case with some of the sex-abuse scandals in the United States — the Catholic Church covered it up and, as a result, helped perpetuate it. The report concluded that church officials shielded their orders’ pedophiles from arrest to protect their own reputations, the Washington Post reported.
The Sedgwick County commissioners still had too many questions Wednesday to feel comfortable going forward with a proposal to buy 808 acres in Bel Aire for an industrial park. There is a lot to consider, especially with the county budget so tight and other priorities so pressing. But the delay should not be the death of the plan, which was harshly criticized by several local developers and anti-tax activists at the meeting. If the commission does what the critics want, which is nothing, the county will remain uncompetitive in the high-stakes contest to land large businesses with large numbers of jobs. It was good to hear Commission Chairman Kelly Parks indicate that he sees the urgent need for such a shovel-ready industrial park.
“Joe Biden started talking and accidentally revealed Dick Cheney’s secret hiding place. See there’s more proof you don’t need waterboarding to get secret information. Just give Joe Biden a couple of drinks.” — Jay Leno
“Well, this is surprising. A new survey shows that the happiest Americans are elderly, male and Republican. In other words, Republican.” — Jimmy Fallon
“Matt Damon has a new Jason Bourne film coming out. I guess he’s a CIA agent who tells Nancy Pelosi about waterboarding. Yeah, but see, in this one, she’s the one that gets amnesia. That’s the twist.” — Leno
It’s impressive that automobile manufacturers, both foreign and domestic, are supporting a significant increase in fuel-efficiency standards, after years of fighting higher standards. In the case of GM and Chrysler, though, that may be because they have no choice.
Requiring an average of 35.5 miles per gallon should have a dramatic impact on the environment and our fossil-fuel dependency, saving an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil through 2016. But it remains to be seen whether automakers will be able to achieve this standard and do so profitably, given that many American consumers prefer bigger cars. A Wall Street Journal editorial noted: “All that’s left to arrive at the president’s new destination for the American way of driving are huge, unanswered questions about technology, financing and the marketability of cars that will be small and expensive.”
Writer Michael Medved sees in the dramatic decline in residential mobility “grounds for encouragement and reassurance,” he wrote for USA Today, viewing it as especially positive for kids and stable families and communities. “Too often, news reports ignore the unanticipated blessings that flow from the tough business climate,” he said. “Numbers suggest a dramatic drop in revenue for lotteries and casinos meaning less money squandered on gaming and less risk of gambling addiction. Other figures suggest fewer divorce filings as fewer couples can afford legal bills and separate residences.”
© 2009 Wichita Eagle & Beacon Publishing Co. All rights reserved.