Monthly Archives: August 2010

Open thread 8/25

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Big-name Kansas Democrat backing Brownback

Democrats in Kansas — particularly those who live in northeast Kansas — were shocked to learn that Alfred Murguia is a district chairman for a group called Democrats for Brownback. Murguia, who is a member of one of the most-prominent Democratic families in Wyandotte County and the state, said he is supporting Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., for Kansas governor because “he has shown me that he’s willing to listen.” But Murguia also has more pragmatic reasons: He thinks Brownback is a slam dunk to win over state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and Murguia wants Brownback’s help with infrastructure, education and housing needs. Still, Kansas City Star columnist Steve Kraske compared Murguia’s decision with quarterback Joe Montana’s leaving the San Franciso 49ers for the Kansas City Chief and with LeBron James’ decision to bolt hometown Cleveland for Miami. “It’s all that,” Kraske wrote.

Don’t be skimpy on debates

goyle,rajPolitical campaigns often go through a lot of calculations in deciding the number and format of candidate debates. But the candidates — particularly those for Kansas governor and U.S. Congress — need to be committed to having several debates, including some where the public can ask questions. It was disappointing and disconcerting that Democratic 4th Congressional Candidate Raj Goyle took so long to decide whether to participate in a Wichita Crime Commission forum with the GOP candidate Mike Pompeo that the commission was forced to cancel the event.

Majority favor letting tax cuts for wealthy expire

tax-calculatorOnly 31 percent of Americans favor extending all the tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration, according a new CNN poll. Meanwhile, 51 percent of those surveyed support extending the tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 each year and allowing the tax cuts to expire on families that make more than that amount — the same policy that President Obama advocates. An additional 18 percent favor allowing tax rates to rise to the previous level for all Americans, regardless of how much money they make.

Open thread 8/24

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Food market should boost downtown

grocerybagAn often-mentioned obstacle to downtown residential development is the lack of a nearby grocery store. But that could change thanks to the Kansas Department of Commerce’s approval Monday of $2.5 million in tax-exempt bonding authority for the Exchange Market & Deli, a Real Development project at Douglas and Market. The food market should help make downtown an even more desirable housing location.

Honor flights about saying ‘Thank you’

honorflightThe Central Prairie Honor Flight deserves a salute for helping Kansas veterans visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Great Bend-based group has raised money and arranged for about 1,000 veterans and their guardians to make the trip. As wonderful as it was to see the World War II Memorial and other sights, Wichitan Merle Herrick said one of the most moving experiences was being greeted at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport by hundreds of schoolchildren who waved tiny American flags and shouted “Thank you” to him and other elderly veterans. That’s what the honor flights are about _ saying “Thank you.”

Obama could clear economic clouds

clouds,darkThe uncertainty throughout the economy is so confounding and serious that President Obama ought to summon the leaders of labor, business and Congress to Camp David and not let them leave until they’ve made a “grand bargain” on taxes, trade, budget cuts, energy and more, counseled New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. But instead, he lamented, “America’s two big parties still cling to their core religious beliefs as if nothing has changed. Republicans try to undermine the president at every turn and offer their nostrum of tax-cuts-will-solve-everything — without ever specifying what services they’ll give up to pay for them. Mr. Obama gave us expanded health care before expanding the economic pie to sustain it. You still don’t sense our politicians are saying, ‘Wait a minute; stop everything; we have got to work together.’ Don’t these people have 401(k) plans of their own and kids worried about jobs?”

Open thread 8/23

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Would a church be OK?

churchsteeple“If ground zero is ‘sacred ground,’ as some argue, because of the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost there to savagery, then should it not be shared with any religious building?” columnist David Broder asked. “Would a church or a synagogue be as equally objectionable as a mosque? If not, then the implicit message is to blame all Muslims for the actions of al-Qaida, a leap into stereotyping that is almost racist.”

Increased seat-belt use will save lives

seatbeltWhether Kansans are simply getting smarter or our new primary seat-belt law is already changing behavior, it’s good that seat-belt use in Kansas increased nearly 5 points this year to 81.8 percent, according to a recent study. Kansas’ rate is still below the national average, but it should continue to climb because of the new law enabling law enforcement officers to stop and ticket drivers seen not wearing seat belts. Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller said that seat-belt use in other states have gone up 8 to 11 percentage points when they passed primary seat-belt laws. “And when belt use goes up, fatalities go down, and serious injuries go down,” she said. “That’s very good news.”

Time to act on Coleman site

colemanbldgIf Sedgwick County commissioners approve spending $600,000 this week to buy the Coleman building at Second and St. Francis, a dangerous eyesore would make way for a parking lot to serve Intrust Bank Arena and Old Town. Hard as it will be to see the historic factory come down, the priority needs to be putting the building’s neighbors out of their misery and putting in something useful at a site limited by soil and groundwater pollution. As it is, the building does nothing to honor the Coleman Co.’s proud history, and only deters downtown’s reinvention.

Open thread 8/22

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City Council, REAP must be liberal

peterjohnSedgwick County Commission Chairman Karl Peterjohn sent an e-mail to supporters last week defending his recent vote against a federal grant application by the Regional Economic Area Partnership, a group of 34 city and county government in south-central Kansas. “Naturally, this has gotten the liberal Wichita Eagle into a titter,” he said, apparently referring to an Eagle editorial that argued the vote was a slap in the face to REAP and noted that it wouldn’t save any taxpayer money, as the grant money would simply be spent elsewhere. Peterjohn also wrote that he welcomed assistance “with letters to the editor and letters/calls to other local elected county and city officials.” His appeal apparently didn’t have much effect, as the Wichita City Council voted unanimously last week to endorse the grant.

So they said

“To demand that an Islamic cultural center run by Muslims opposed to terrorism not be built two blocks from the WTC site is like demanding that a Unitarian church not be built two blocks from an abortion clinic bombed by the ‘Christian’ murderer of the late Dr. George Tiller.” — Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker (though Scott Roeder never bombed an abortion clinic)

“I always worry about what lurks under the banner of a ‘lame-duck Congress.’ Some of these people have no conscience.” — Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., at the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association meeting in Wichita

“I’m so proud to be an obstructionist. That takes talent.” — Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, at the same event, on being in the House minority

“In a lot of ways, he has expressed that he has total command of imaginary issues.” — Secretary of State Chris Biggs, on his voter-fraud-obsessed GOP opponent, Kris Kobach

Pro-con: Should Muslim cultural center be built?

islamFirst, some facts. The proposed Muslim community center site is not at ground zero. It’s two blocks north of the World Trade Center site. What’s being proposed is a community center with meeting rooms, a swimming pool, a day care center and auditorium as well as space for religious services. It would have an interfaith board and offer interfaith programming. The project also wouldn’t be the first mosque near ground zero. It wouldn’t even be the second. Two others have been operating for decades, one only four blocks from the Sept. 11 site. Should those religious institutions be ejected? The center will be on private property with the zoning it needs and all necessary municipal approvals. Do mosque opponents believe the government should seize it? Deny it based on religion? Angry protests over proposed mosques are breaking out around the country. So former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and a bandwagon of other politicians are finding political traction peddling divisive religious fear — equating all Muslims with fundamentalist terrorists. Why not appeal, instead, to our better nature — to American ideals of religious freedom, to the part of human nature (not to mention the elemental Christian message) that seeks to love our neighbor instead of hate? Apparently, they figure they’d get no boost in the polls from that. — Charlotte Observer editorial

We’re told this controversy is mainly about religious tolerance, but too many questions remain unanswered to take such bromides at face value. Consider Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who’s heading up the project. He’s described as a moderate Muslim who wants to build interfaith understanding. If so, why insist on a multistory complex so close to where 3,000 Americans were incinerated by Islamic jihadists? If this is about tolerance and sensitivity, shouldn’t mosque organizers grant the sensitivity they demand of others and accept an alternate location? One of the mosque project’s most obvious red flags is the lack of information about funding. Where’s the money coming from? Rauf and other organizers won’t say. Why not? A Muslim group truly interested in fostering goodwill would be willing to accept an alternative site. That Rauf and his backers have refused sends a clear message that undermines their professed commitment to religious understanding. — E. Thomas McClanahan, the Kansas City Star

Open thread 8/21

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Late-night laughs

happymoon“Obama’s headed to vacation in Martha’s Vineyard for 10 days. He’s staying in a house that has an unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean, which just happens to be pointed in the direction of Mecca.” — Jimmy Kimmel

“It is shrimp season, and the FDA assures me that seafood from the Gulf ‘tested below the level of concern for health risks from petroleum compounds.’ . . . Mmm. My mouth is watering already.” — Stephen Colbert

What else one-fifth of Americans believe

LittleGreenMenUpon learning that 1 in 5 Americans wrongly think President Obama is a Muslim, the Washington Post’s Justin Moyer found that one-fifth of Americans also believe, among other things, that socialism is better than capitalism, that states have the right to secede, that intelligent beings from other planets have made contact with earthlings and, judging from their acknowledged behavior, that it’s OK to urinate in a swimming pool.

Final thoughts on budget season

timeismoney– Sedgwick County should not repeat the mistake of setting a public hearing for its budget at the same time as a Wichita City Council budget hearing, creating a conflict for interested constituents of both governing bodies.
– The Sedgwick County Commission’s 4-1 budget vote offered the jarring sight of Chairman Karl Peterjohn, formerly executive director of the Kansas Taxpayers Network, voting against a tax cut (as he voted against the budget out of dissatisfaction with its spending).
– When he campaigned for the commission in 2008, Peterjohn complained that the county budget had “ballooned by well over 100 percent” since 1992. Yet he couldn’t name a single item in the budget that should be cut. Now that he has been on the commission through two budget cycles, Peterjohn is still complaining about spending yet offering few specific and substantive recommendations for cuts.

Open thread 8/20

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Dubious, bogus and utterly phony headlines

SPOOFSLOGOThe following satirical headlines come from borowitzreport.com and theonion.com:
ALL U.S. WORKPLACES TO BE FITTED WITH INFLATABLE SLIDES; Could Reduce Job Stress, Labor Department Says
OBAMA DECLARES VICTORY, SORT OF, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LOOK AT IT, IN IRAQ
REPORT: STILL 12,000 MORE GAMES LEFT In 2010 BASEBALL SEASON

Blagojevich not exonerated

blagojevichPredictably, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich treated his conviction Tuesday on 1 of 24 criminals counts as 100 percent proof of his innocence. Yet the outcome was enough for the Chicago Tribune to headline an editorial “Rod Blagojevich, felon,” and look forward to a new trial on the counts that confounded the jury. Meanwhile, a Washington Post blog asked readers to vote for their favorite Blagojevich quote. Among the nominees:
“I’ve got this thing and it’s f—-ing golden, and I’m just not giving it up for f—-ing nothing. I’m not gonna do it.”
“You understand, it’s very important for me to make a lot of money. I need independence. I need freedom.”
“I’m blacker than Barack Obama.”

Tea party seeks hostile takeover of GOP

armeydick“Let us be clear about one thing: The tea party movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party, but a hostile takeover of it,” wrote Dick Armey (in photo) and Matt Kibbe, leaders of FreedomWorks, one of the main organizers of tea party rallies. However, when asked this week on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” if the tea party is just a more conservative form of the Republican Party, Armey stressed that the tea party is not a political party. “We don’t trust political parties,” he said.

Open thread 8/19

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